Aerial of the boreal forest, Photo: Andrea Maenza
Canada’s boreal forest is one of the last wild areas in the world that still supports a full suite of native species in large, connected ecosystems. It is a last refuge for species like woodland caribou and wolverine that have disappeared from more southerly areas where logging, roads, mining and other developments have fundamentally altered ecosystems.
Almost four million Canadians also live in the boreal forest. More than a third of them are Aboriginal People. The land remains a central part of the cultures of these communities.
We have a unique opportunity in the boreal forest to develop new approaches that respect the wild character of this region and that restore ecosystems and landscapes where they have already been altered by resource extraction and development.
We believe that in the boreal we must:
- protect the still-wild nature of much of this region by putting the needs of nature and communities ahead of resource development
- we must establish a leading edge system of large core protected areas, connecting corridors, buffers and sensitive areas.
- we must insist that any resource development taking place in the region meets world-class standards for protecting the environment, water quality, sensitive species and other ecological values. Forestry, for example, should, at a minimum, meet the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council.
- we must take a diversified approach to economic development in the boreal, one that creates real and lasting opportunities for communities, particularly First Nations. We must ensure, for example, that we retain large areas of remote, old forest that are suitable for remote tourism, traditional hunting and gathering, and other alternative economic activities.
- we must respect the enormous contribution that the boreal forest makes to producing clean water and air, curbing climate change and sustaining biodiversity among many other daily tasks. We must make protecting these ecosystem services a priority in all decision making.
The best way to protect the highly valuable and increasingly globally rare natural values of the boreal forest is to ensure that big picture land-use planning precedes any further resource allocations or development decisions, including road building, in this region.
A hypothetical land-use plan.
Click to enlarge.
Only by looking at the big picture and the long term can we ensure the protection of the whole suite of species and systems that make up the boreal. Too many of the Earth's natural systems are in trouble due to over-exploitation, pollution and short-term thinking.
We must take a completely new approach in one of the world's greatest remaining intact ecosystems -- the boreal forest.
Join Us. Protect the Spaces You Love.