Politicians Persuaded to Save Canada’s Boreal Forest

Our friends at the Boreal Songbird Initiative pointed us to this good news piece — unlikely as it sounds, politicians are actually listening to scientists for a change:

Politicians persuaded to save Canada boreal forest

By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment CorrespondentWASHINGTON, Nov 19 (Reuters) –

Politicians actually listened when experts told them to protect Canada’s boreal forest, a potent weapon against global warming, and the plan for this vast green area could work on some of the world’s other vital places, scientists told Reuters.

Bigger than the Amazon and better than almost anywhere else on the planet at keeping climate-warming carbon out of the atmosphere, the boreal forest stretches across 1.4 billion acres (566.6 million hectares) from Newfoundland to Alaska.

More importantly, the boreal is in good condition, and the scientists’ plan aims to keep it that way.

“There’s not a lot of these really big chunks of ecosystem left,” said Stuart Pimm, a conservation biologist at Duke University, said in a joint interview on Tuesday with several environmental experts.”So we understand that were we to destroy this, the consequences would be vast. The carbon implications alone are significant, especially at a time when 20 percent of global carbon emissions come from deforestation.”

Pimm and 13 other environmental experts are part of an international team to be formally unveiled this week, which will monitor the protection of the boreal forest…

… The plan to preserve the boreal forest picked up momentum last year when 1,500 scientists from more than 50 countries called for its protection.

In July, the government of Ontario agreed to strictly protect half of its boreal lands and to sustainably manage the other half, with no extraction of minerals or other natural resources allowed.

Last week, Quebec Premier Jean Charest, now campaigning for re-election, pledged to do the same if he wins. Canadian businesses also have endorsed the plan, and Kallick said there is a good chance most provincial governments will as well… (read the full article).

It’s encouraging to see momentum on boreal conservation. Nature Canada is among several conservation groups who have endorsed the Boreal Conservation Framework, an alliance of conservation groups, First Nations, and leading Canadian companies.

As a supporter of the Framework, Nature Canada is committed to taking action on behalf of our members to protect the Boreal, by calling for:

  • protecting at least 50% of the region in a network of large interconnected protected areas, and
  • supporting sustainable communities, world-leading ecosystem-based resource management practices, and state-of-the-art stewardship practices in the remaining landscape.

We applauded Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s courageous decision to set aside half of the province’s boreal forest, and Jean Charest’s announcement, though made in the heat of a re-election campaign, sounds very promising as well. It’s important to remember that politicians can, and will, listen to citizens, when they raise their voices loud enough. Nature Canada members have been very vocal about this issue — through our letter-writing campaigns and petition drives — and that has helped our efforts to keep boreal conservation on the national agenda. So thank you!

And thanks for the article link, David.