Boreal Forest

Canada’s Boreal Forest accounts for one-quarter of the intact, original forest remaining on Earth. This vast region harbors life found in few other places on the planet and resources that once seemed infinite. But at this moment, the future of our Great North Woods is uncertain. The Nature Conservancy has joined forces with a broad coalition of First Nations, industry and NGOs to protect these 1.4 billion acres of wild frontier forest and indigenous lands.

Guided by the “50/50 vision” of the Boreal Conservation Framework, the Conservancy is working with partners to protect 50 percent of the entire Canadian Boreal Forest in a network of large, interconnected areas, while establishing sustainable use and good stewardship across the remaining 50 percent.

Our Goals
  • Create a Network of Protected Areas: The Conservancy is providing science expertise for the Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy, a First Nations-led initiative to create a network of ecologically- and culturally-significant protected areas across ancestral lands. Within a decade, this endeavor could preserve more than 75 million acres of the Boreal Forest — an area larger than Arizona.
  • Achieve Sustainable Forestry: The Conservancy is providing science expertise to support timber companies in creating a landscape of sustainable, working forests across Canada’s Boreal. By achieving Forest Stewardship Council certification across such a wide area, this initiative will protect millions of acres while increasing the availability of sustainable wood and paper products in the marketplace.
  • Enhance Scientific Knowledge: The Conservancy and partners created the Boreal Information Centre (BIC), a shared, online database that acts as an information warehouse offering map-based information to aid in land-use and conservation planning. The BIC enables researchers and all Boreal stakeholders to share and review relevant, up-to-date data.
Canada's Boreal Forest: A Globally Significant Landscape

More than 1,500 prominent scientists from around the world have endorsed an open letter to all Canadian governments calling for the preservation of the Boreal as a landscape of global ecological significance. The Premiers of both Ontario and Quebec also recently recognized the importance of the Boreal with pledges to protect 50% of the Boreal habitat in each of the provinces.

  • The Boreal Forest represents one-quarter of the intact, original forests remaining on Earth.
  • These forests are a giant carbon sink, a critical part of nature’s mechanism for absorbing greenhouse gases. Boreal Forests capture and hold 11 percent of the world’s carbon, and are second only to oceans in their ability to sequester carbon.
  • The Boreal acts as the spring nursery for more than 3 billion migrating birds, which play a vital role in landscapes across North America — eating insects, pollinating plants and bringing beauty and song to our own backyards.
  • Because so much of the Boreal Forest remains undeveloped and roadless, it supports large populations of wildlife — from wolves, moose, caribou and bears to songbirds, ducks, geese and cranes.
  • The Boreal Forest is home to more than 4 million people, many of them members of First Nations communities who have lived here for milennia. The forest is not only their home, but the source of their subsistence, livelihoods and culture.
Meeting Challenges in Canada's Boreal Forest

Until recently, the Boreal Forest’s vastness, cold climate and remote location buffered it from pressures that have degraded other forests around the world. Now, mounting pressure for resources such as timber, hydroelectric power and minerals is chipping away at Canada’s Boreal Forest at a rate of about 1 percent a year — a rate of loss similar to the pace of destruction in tropical rainforests.

Many conservationists believe the fate of the Boreal Forest will be determined in the next 10 years, and the actions we take today may be the deciding factor. We have a choice: We can look to the future and see a forest of diminished beauty and biodiversity, lacking the places that sustain and enrich its people. Or, we can look to the future and see a forest that meets the needs of both people and nature.

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