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Wetland Curriculum Resource
Unit 5. Environmental Issues -

7 : 10 acad : 10 appl : 11 appl : 12 acad :: Role-playing/environmental hearing)

Purpose: To conduct a simulated environmental hearing on the proposed excavation of Heron Marsh.

Background: In Anywhere, Canada, a 40 hectare marsh exists known as Heron Marsh along the shoreline of a large lake. The marsh is located on the property of the Reliable Cement Company. The company has submitted a proposal to mine the limestone beneath the marsh. To excavate the limestone, 10 to 15 metres of overburden would first have to be removed before the 45 to 50 metres of limestone existing under the marsh can be mined. Reliable can excavate 3 million tonnes of limestone per year. It is estimated that it would take 30 to 40 years to excavate the limestone that exists under the marsh. Along with the excavation of the marsh, the creek which flows into the marsh, is to be diverted into the lake. The marsh supports a diverse array of flora and fauna and functions as ecologically significant habitat for the species present.

What You Need: research material

What You Do:

  1. Elect 5 people from the class to represent the hearing panel. They receive the written submissions, listen to presentations, evaluate proposals, and decide on the outcome of the proposal. The panel should elect a Chairperson.
  2. Assign the roles of the following people to the remaining students in the class, some may wish to work in pairs or teams:
    • a biologist for Reliable Cement
    • the Mayor of Anywhere
    • neighbouring residents of Heron Marsh
    • the President of the Anywhere Field Naturalists
    • a Union representative for Reliable Cement
    • a spokesperson for Ducks Unlimited
    • an employee of Reliable Cement
    • a Conservation Authority spokesperson
    • a lawyer representing Reliable Cement
    • stockholders in limestone
    • a city councillor up for re-election
    • the President of Reliable Cement
    • a representative of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Energy
    • a Ministry of Natural Resources biologist
    • a local fisherman
    • a teacher who teaches Outdoor Education
    • a local bait shop owner
    • a lawyer representing the neighbouring residents
    • representatives of companies buying cement from Reliable Cement
  3. Students should research their role and obtain the necessary background information to support their case working alone or with partners.
  4. Each student or team should prepare a written proposal to be submitted to the hearing panel, and a five minute oral presentation.
  5. The hearing panel listens to the presentations in an unbiased manner. The panel should ask at least one question to each presenter.
  6. When the hearing is complete, allow the panel time to review the submissions before their decision. When they are formulating their opinion, the panel should devise a cost/benefit analysis based on the environmental, economic, and societal implications that could arise.
  7. Have the Chairperson of the hearing panel present their decision and the rationale supporting their decision.


  1. What is the purpose of the cost/benefit analysis?
  2. Do you agree or disagree with the outcome of the hearing panel's decision? Why?


  1. Write a persuasive speech, letter to the editor, or letter of concern to a local politician in defiance or support of the proposed excavation of Heron Marsh by the Reliable Cement Company. Present your opinion.
  2. Identify the different wetlands in your area and find out if there are similar developments planned for them. It might be a new landfill, a new subdivision or cottage development, a plan for peat extraction, a plan to harvest timber nearby or a plan to locate a new industry upstream. Find out what you can about these plans and determine ways that you can become involved in helping your community to make the best decision possible. (You may wish to make this your project for later activities in this unit.)

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