Canada’s Boreal Forest
At 1.3 billion acres, the Canadian Boreal Forest is one of the largest intact forest and wetland ecosystems remaining on earth. It is a major source of North America’s fresh water and home to the some of the planet’s largest populations of wolves, grizzly bears, and woodland caribou.
Its vast lakes and rivers offer up fish in abundance and its trees and wetlands provide nesting grounds for billions of songbirds and waterfowl. Hundreds of First Nations communities also depend on the Boreal Forest ecosystem for fish and wildlife.
The Boreal Forest is under increasing pressure from logging, mining, and oil and gas operations and only 10 per cent has been protected to date, far less than what is scientifically recognized as necessary to sustain the ecosystem over time. Nature Canada is calling on the Government of Canada to advance the Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy.
In a recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, deforestation was identified as a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. The Boreal Forest stores large quantities of carbon and provides a shield against global warming and critical habitat for birds, fish and wildlife.
The Boreal Forest is the single-largest terrestrial carbon storehouse in the world. The Canadian Boreal Forest alone stores 186 billion tonnes of carbon – equivalent to 27 years of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions from the consumption of fossil fuels.
The Boreal Forest Conservation Framework
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 member of the Framework, Nature Canada is committed to the national vision and to taking action on behalf of our members to protect the Boreal. The Framework calls 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.
The Northwest Territories Protection Strategy
The Government of Canada has before them a number of proposals to establish new National Parks and other protected areas in the Northwest Territories. These proposals are widely supported by Aboriginal peoples, local communities, and conservation groups throughout North America.
As a first step toward protection of the Boreal Forest, Nature Canada would like to see action to advance the Northwest Territories Protected Area Strategy and specifically, to ensure immediate protection for the following sites:
1. Nahanni National Park
2. Sayhoue/Edacho National Historical Site
3. Edehzhie (Horn Plateau) National Wildlife Area
4. Thaydene Nene (East Arm, Great Slave Lake) National Park
5. Ts’ude’hliline Tuyetah (Ramparts) National Wildlife Area