We’re making one last push to recruit signers of our petition to Save the Boreal Birds, before we officially submit the signed petitions to leaders in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal on May 12. Canada’s Boreal Forest, a 1.4 billion acre green garland stretching from Yukon to Newfoundland, is one of the world’s most unique and important ecosystems. The billions of birds raised in North America’s Bird Nursery leave their nests in the fall and migrate to winter locations throughout North, Central and South America. Many of our favorite backyard birds began their lives in the Boreal. In recent years, we have seen long-term declines in many Boreal bird species. Rusty Blackbirds have declined by 95%, Olive-sided Flycatchers, Boreal Chickadees, Bay-breasted… read more →
Could trees replace tundra in Canada’s Arctic? Perhaps, according to a new report to be released by 35 of the world’s top forestry scientists. (see press release) While warmer temperatures from global warming will spell destruction for forests in places like the Western US, southern Europe and Australia, Canada’s treeline may expand northward. From the Globe and Mail: Warmer temperatures will be a boon to woodlands in northern countries, as will the presence of increased carbon dioxide in the air, which will act as a type of natural fertilizer for tree growth in the Arctic. Besides Baffin Island, forests will be able to spread to most of the Hudson Bay coastline; Southampton Island, perched at the top of Hudson Bay;… read more →
A fascinating look at the State of the Birds in the United States has just been released by several government, NGO and academic partners, including our BirdLife partner in the U.S., National Audubon Society. The report uses data from three continent-wide bird monitoring programs, as well as species specific survey data, to create bird population indicators for major U.S. habitats. The results indicate significant conservation challenges. Every U.S. habitat is home to birds of conservation concern. Particularly worrisome is the status of birds in Hawaii and ocean birds. These populations need immediate and concerted conservation effort to safeguard them. However, declines are taking place in other habitats as well: populations in grasslands and aridland habitats show the most rapid decline… read more →
If you have not seen the March edition of National Geographic, make an effort to do so. The latest issue of the magazine includes an excellent 24-page spread on the tar sands that includes the typical first class photography for which National Geographic is renowned. Also, check out the web site for a short video that includes interviews and images not seen in the magazine. Environment Minister Jim Prentice is quoted today as calling the exposé “just one article,” adding “it’s difficult to see the North American marketplace developing in an orderly way for energy without the oil sands being part of the equation.” In contrast to Prentice, the government of Alberta called the article “fair.” Here is what is… read more →
As I perused my latest issue of National Geographic, a passage caught my eye from an article about the wild mustangs of the American West: Horses will likely be around as long as there are humans to attach themselves to a saddle. What is less sure is whether there will always be enough wild to allow mustangs to run in secure, functional, genetically viable herds. Driving home from the Rock Springs gather, through Pinedale to Jackson, I’d seen acres of the High Plains turned over to oil and gas development, rigs towering out of the frozen sage, the outskirts of towns bristling with man camps and trailer parks for the roughnecks. Oil field traffic hurried out on a web of… read more →
Last week, the Boreal Songbird Initiative, Pembina Institute and the Natural Resources Defence Council released a report describing the predicted impact of the tar sands on bird populations. The report, Danger in the Nursery, used modelling based on best current knowledge of bird populations in northeastern Alberta, combined with documented and estimated impacts of different elements of tar sands development and expansion on bird populations. The picture is grim for many reasons. Impacts include: direct lost of habitat to strip mining settling ponds threat to migrants fragmentation and destruction of habitat from deep drilling installations with their road and pipeline networks air pollution from the operations and the production and refining processes water withdrawal, diversions and contamination How do the… read more →
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… read more →
A recent article in the journal Nature suggests that old growth forests continue to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and mitigate climate change for hundreds of years. The authors make a strong recommendation to keep old growth systems intact as a strategy of mitigation. Nature Canada has worked for decades to protect old growth forests primarily in protected areas like National Parks and National Wildlife Areas. In the past we did it to protect biodiversity and now there is another huge reason to establish protected areas!