This week the Canadian Press reported on progress that’s been made regarding protection in Canada’s Boreal Forest. Citing the Canadian Boreal Initiative, Bob Weber reports that: “the amount of boreal forest under some form of government protection has doubled since 2007 to about 12 per cent of the total area...” While a 50% increase may seem significant, unfortunately 12% protection falls far below what science recommends to protect ecosystems.
Currently scientists, including the scientists of the International Boreal Conservation Science Panel, recommend that at least 50% of the Boreal Forest be protected in order to protect ecosystem services, species at risk, and the livelihoods of forest dependent communities. At 1.3 billion acres, Canada’s Boreal Forest is one of the largest remaining intact forests on Earth, and is the largest terrestrial carbon sink. It also provides a home to threatened species such as woodland caribou, grizzly bears and wolverine. Hundreds of First Nation communities rely on the Boreal Forest for fish and wildlife.
However, industrial development – particularly logging, mining and hydro – pose immediate threats to Canada’s Boreal Forest. With just under 12% formal protection, and development expanding northward at a rapid pace, the Boreal is at risk.
To read about some of the most important regions in Canada’s Boreal Forest, the threats they face, and solutions for ensuring that the Boreal is adequately conserved without sacrificing economic opportunities, see the Boreal Alarm: A wake up call for action in Canada’s Endangered Forests.