Places We Protect

Boreal Forest


View looking out over a large body of water with autumn-colored forests along its banks at sunrise.
Boreal Forest Spanning 1.3 billion acres, the boreal forest is the Earth's largest terrestrial carbon sink. © Michael Pietrocarlo

With 80% of the Province covered by boreal forest, Manitoba provides incredible opportunities to partner with Indigenous communities on protecting this landscape.

The boreal forest is the Earth's largest terrestrial carbon sink, storing 208 billion tons of carbon, or the equivalent to 26 years of global carbon emissions. The Nature Conservancy’s project is located in one of the most intact areas.

Working with Indigenous Peoples

We strive to develop meaningful partnerships with First Nations communities that create a dialogue of trust and respect for Indigenous rights and cultural traditions. Learn more about our approach in Canada.

Results here will carry global significance. The ideas and approaches that are developed can inform forest conservation around the world—contributing to new ways of partnering with Indigenous peoples and implementing creative market and policy solutions.

Home to ten of Canada’s last and largest woodland caribou herds, this region is filled with mossy peatlands and unbroken stretches of forest, which are key to supporting healthy ecosystems and native plant and animal species.

For thousands of years, First Nations communities thrived within the richness and sustenance of the Boreal as the land’s original stewards. But as demand for resources grew, their authority over their traditional territories was challenged, their economies were destabilized and their immemorial way of living was threatened.

Chief Clarence Easter leads the Chemawawin Cree Nation in Manitoba, Canada, which is partnering with Nature United: “We belong to the land; the land doesn’t belong to us. I’ve always lived off the land. Growing up, the land was your provider, your mentor, your healer; the berries you pick, the medicines you get, everything you got from the land … you didn’t rely on anyone else."

Several people in a bright yellow canoe paddle away from the camera on a body of water toward forested banks.
Canoe Students in a canoe in Manitoba © Robert Rideout
Several shorebirds fly low over a body of water, with their reflections showing on the surface of the water.
Boreal Wetlands Boreal wetlands near The Pas, Manitoba, harbor more than 230 bird species and are an important staging area during migration. © Eamon MacMahon/TNC

We work in partnership with Indigenous Nations to support Indigenous-led conservation and sustainable resource management. This includes: Indigenous Guardian program development; community-led land use planning; establishment of Indigenous protected areas; and youth-on-the-land programs. 

We believe conservation must go hand-in-hand with building local economies, which is why we also support sustainable economic development that aligns with cultural values and durable financing opportunities to fund stewardship in the long term. We also support initiatives that allow for collaboration and collective action among Indigenous nations as well as with other actors.

Moose are a cultural keystone species, with critical importance as a food source and for traditional practices. And while moose may not yet appear on federal or provincial Endangered Species lists, declines in populations are impacting Indigenous communities and have ripple effects in the forest ecosystem. The pressures on moose are compounding, according to Indigenous communities who report industrial pressures, over-hunting, poor monitoring and management, disease, habitat loss and climate change.

Closeup of a moose chewing on thin, snowy branches of a bush.
Moose A moose munches on snowy branches in Calgary AB © Jean Wallace/TNC Photo Contest 2021
A caribou stands on a rocky shore of a body of water with a stand of trees on its opposite rocky shore.
Woodland Caribou Canada’s Boreal is the only place on Earth where you can find forest-dwelling woodland caribou. © Ami Vitale
Moose A moose munches on snowy branches in Calgary AB © Jean Wallace/TNC Photo Contest 2021
Woodland Caribou Canada’s Boreal is the only place on Earth where you can find forest-dwelling woodland caribou. © Ami Vitale

Barren-ground caribou are expert navigators. They migrate long distances throughout the seasons and across ice, water and tundra. But these migration patterns are changing, and the Indigenous peoples who rely on caribou for physical, cultural and spiritual sustenance have felt the impact.

  • Closeup of a moose chewing on thin, snowy branches of a bush.

    Moose Monitoring and Management

    We’ve heard that moose declines are a big concern to Indigenous communities in this region, so we’ve been supporting the development of community-led solutions, such as moose monitoring programs.

  • Nature United staff, consultants and First Nation representatives discuss Healthy Country Planning during a workshop in May 2019 at Whiteshell Provincial Park in Manitoba.

    Community-led Land-use Planning

    We’ve supported a number of land-use planning training sessions so communities can lead their own processes, using a process that was developed with Indigenous nations in Australia.

  • Sunlight streams through a densely wooded forest, giving everything a golden glow.

    Forestry Best Practices

    We are committed to supporting best practices in the forestry sector. This includes robust engagement processes that respect indigenous rights and protection and management of cultural and ecological values along with timber values.

  • Elders and youth from the Misipawistik Cree Nation gathered on the shore of Lake Winnipeg, near Grand Rapids, Manitoba.

    Bringing People Together

    We believe in the value of people coming together to network, learn and share, so we have held a number of gatherings on topics of interest to the communities we have been working with.

Support Our Work in the Boreal

Your support will help us ensure a future where healthy communities and responsible economic development drive locally and globally significant conservation outcomes in the Boreal.