Canada’s “Endangered Boreal Forests”
Canada’s Boreal Forest has been described as the world’s last great forest. Its wildlife is diverse - grizzly and black bears, wolverine and wolves, lynx, moose and elusive woodland caribou roam across these vast northern lands. The Boreal Forest provides nesting grounds for over 1 billion birds and its sweeping expanses contain the world’s largest area of freshwater, and 25% of the world’s wetlands.
The Boreal Forest is also the world’s largest terrestrial storehouse, holding over 200-billion tonnes in its trees, soils and wetlands - equal to over 26 years of human-made carbon emissions (2006 levels) from burning fossil fuels.
More than 600 First Nations communities call the Boreal Forest home, and much of the Boreal is recognised as being First Nations’ traditional territories. Many communities rely on the forest for hunting, fishing and collecting medicines – rights that are guaranteed by the Canadian Constitution – but historically, First Nations have been largely left out of receiving the economic benefits of their forests and, many have little decision-making authority over developments. Increasingly, though, many Nations are asserting their rights to free prior and informed consent over activities on their lands, and are setting up sustainable business ventures.
This globally significant forest provides a wealth of benefits – clean air and water, recreation and thousands of jobs. Yet the majority of the most biologically diverse areas in the Boreal Forest have been licensed for logging and other industrial uses (across Canada, more than 258 million hectares, or 65% of all Canadian forests, are under logging allocations), and many of these have already been clearcut or roaded. For example, over 90% of Quebec’s allocated forests have been logged or fragmented. With low levels of protection, the areas that remain untouched are rare and vulnerable, and under increasing threat – and are known as “Endangered Forests.” Their fate now lies in the balance.
Situation critical: “Endangered Boreal Forests”
Recognizing the urgency of the situation, in 2012 Greenpeace commissioned Global Forest Watch Canada to analyse some of the last large intact areas of Canada’s Boreal Forest that are open to logging.
Five “Endangered Forest” areas of extraordinary ecological value were identified as being under severe threat from expanding industrial development. Read more about these forests in Boreal Alarm: A wake up call for action in Canada's Endangered Forests.
Click on the map to get to know each one of these spectacular forests.
In several of these areas, Canada’s largest logging company Resolute Forest Products is operating and sourcing timber to produce pulp, paper and lumber products. Their operations, disputed by several First Nations, are degrading critical caribou habitat and fragmenting these Endangered Forests. Learn more about how Resolute is destroying caribou habitat and “Endangered Forests.”
A pathway to solutions for Endangered Forests
Yet there is hope: Solutions that work for people, communities, wildlife and logging companies exist, and are in place in other parts of the world. Greenpeace, along with tens of thousands of people in Canada and across the planet, believe that it can be done in the Boreal Forest as well.
With only 10.7% of Canada’s forest lands allocated to the forest sector are permanently protected under government legislation, we know that a large network of protected areas and conservation zones – which includes portions of these Endangered Forest areas - is vital to preserve the health of the Boreal Forest. Protected areas coupled with improved logging practices, certified to the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council system, will deliver sustainable economies and jobs, resilient and respected communities and a healthy forest.
To deliver these solutions, we believe that First Nations, provincial governments, leaders of logging companies and unions, and environmental organizations must work together. While challenging, we believe that logging and roadbuilding in core areas of Endangered Forests must be temporarily suspended, in order to create the space to come up with innovative solutions.
Learn more about how Greenpeace successfully works with communities, logging companies and their customers by reading Forest Solutions.
Leading the way to save Endangered Forests
Dozens of large corporations which buy pulp, paper and lumber have policies that restrict the purchase of products from companies that threaten Endangered and High Conservation Value Forests and support responsible forestry certified to FSC standards. These include the likes of Kimberly-Clark, Unilever, Office Depot, Rona, Procter and Gamble, Nestle, the Guardian, and Mattel.
With these policies in effect, they encourage the forest products and logging companies themselves to conserve ecologically vital forests – these include the likes of Asia Pulp and Paper, APRIL and Wilmar operating in Indonesia, Western Forest Products, Interfor, and Catalyst Paper in the Great Bear Rainforest, and Cargill, ADM, and JBS in the Amazon. Together they are delivering on commitments to stop deforestation and forest degradation globally.
Canadians and people around the world can make a difference. Add your name to the thousands who already #StandForForests, and help us protect Canada’s most Endangered Forests.