Canada’s boreal is the largest intact forest in the world and we need to do more to protect it, researchers say.
In the midst of a steady stream of grim reports about the environment, a new study offers a welcome ray of hope. Researchers have determined that there are still hundreds of regions around the globe healthy enough to help maintain clean air and water, support rich animal and plant life and slow climate change.
Ask any American what their national bird is and they'll be sure to tell you it's the Bald Eagle. Ask a Canadian the same question and they're likely to shift the conversation to the weather or last night's hockey game. Why? Because Canada doesn't have a national bird. That's about to change. And unlike in the United States, everyday Canadians are playing a role in the selection.
anada is a forest nation. About 35 per cent (or roughly 3.48 million square kilometres) of the country is covered by forest. That's an area larger than the size of India! In fact, Canada's forests are bigger than all but five of the world's countries.
Stretching from Alaska to Labrador, the Boreal has more intact forest than the Amazon and nearly twice as much carbon in storage as tropical forests. It is a crowning jewel at the top of the globe. Preserving it now will make bird species more resilient as they face climate change and habitat loss along their migration routes south.
Moose Cree has spent years using their laws to keep the river safe from resource development. But Ontario has yet to reciprocate and still keeps the watershed open for industrial activities such as mining under provincial laws. This is a recipe for conflict. Moose Cree's efforts to safeguard this river date back to 2002 when the community informed then MNR Minister Jerry Ouellette of the need for permanent protection. The minister rejected that request. The community persevered. Over the next 14 years they would face down mining and forestry companies.
Without the forest and the economic activity it generates, the North Shore, the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and all the other forest regions of Quebec would not have experienced the same level of economic development that has benefited all Quebecers. However, forestry activity could fall sharply in the fairly near future.
Canadians steward not just about nine per cent of all the world's forests, but a whopping 25 per cent of the planet's most intact and pristine forests. Despite everything forests provide to Canada, our collective stewardship of this quintessential Canadian landscape may be falling behind. Canada is one of only a few developed countries continuing to lose forest.
Exploration is a necessary part of the mining cycle but it is not benign. Lots of people talk about the potential for mining the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario but how many people have an idea of the environmental footprint of ongoing exploration today?
Many of the stories told at the World Parks Congress will emphasize work in parts of the world struggling with fragmented landscapes, greatly depleted wildlife and ecosystems on the edge of collapse. But conservation in Canada is uniquely different.
There is a tart and nutritious berry available to us from the nordic forests of Sweden. The lingonberry. You can walk into
2013 was a big year for Canada's boreal forest. However, many of these stories remain unresolved. Here are the top 10 stories of 2014 that are most likely to have a huge impact in the boreal forest for years to come.
The changes we have seen more recently in our forests have not been caused by plate tectonics or long term climate cycles, but by me, by you, by us. We have converted almost 50 per cent of our planet's forests into croplands, ranches, plantations, subdivisions and highways.
Areas of Earth that have remained relatively free of industrial development have taken on a special significance. In Canada, they include awe-inspiring landscapes like the Sacred Headwaters in northwestern B.C. But the Sacred Headwaters is not protected under law. It remains at risk from a multitude of proposed mines, railways, transmission lines and other projects that will eviscerate the landscape if approved.
Apparently, American environmentalists have put huge areas of Canada off-limits to development as de facto trade barriers that enforce a U.S. monopoly on our exports, while at the same time as they want to drop our exports to the U.S. to zero. Or something. This supposed scandal has been hiding in plain sight for almost a decade, and almost none of the key facts holds up to scrutiny. A veritable cottage industry has grown up promoting one of the most politically convenient conspiracy theories in recent memory.
Canada's environmental laws are under attack by both the federal and Ontario governments. In Ottawa, the government introduced Bill C-38 to implement far-reaching measures announced in its budget. The 420-page Bill C-38 will gut a raft of federal laws passed over the years to ensure that our air, water, and most vulnerable wildlife populations are protected.
The ethical oil campaign often glosses over the price we're paying to develop the tar sands. But how ethical is an industry that destroys our boreal forests, pollutes our water and drives species to extinction? It's time we stop pointing fingers at other countries and take a long hard look at how we are acting in our own backyard.
Canada's boreal forest represents wealth and opportunity for development, but such activities must be thoughtfully planned and managed if we are to maintain the boreal's ecological values. There are few places left on the planet where waterways and vast wetlands remain alongside intact forest ecosystems.
One endangered herd in Alberta's tar sands region is at great risk of disappearing. Clear-cutting and no-holds-barred oil and gas exploration and development have affected more than 60 per cent of the habitat of the Red Earth caribou herd, leaving little undisturbed forest where it can feed, breed, and roam.