1,500 Scientists Worldwide Call For Protection of Canada's Boreal Forest
May 14, 2007 - Ottawa & Seattle
In a letter released today and addressing all Canadian governments - provincial, territorial and federal - 1,500 highly respected scientists from more than 50 countries around the world call for protection of Canada's Boreal Forest. The scientists identify the 1.4 billion acre Canadian Boreal Forest as one of the largest intact forest and wetland ecosystems remaining on earth.
Canada's Boreal Forest is a major source of North America's fresh water and home to some of the planet's largest populations of wolves, grizzly bear 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 their livelihood.
However, the Boreal Forest is under increasing pressure from logging, mining and oil and gas operations and only 10% has been protected to date, far less than what is scientifically recognized as necessary to sustain the ecosystem over time.
"The extraordinary level of support expressed in this letter demonstrates the global ecological importance of Canada's Boreal Forest and the urgent need for Canada to protect it," said David Schindler, Killam Memorial Chair and Professor of Ecology at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. "We are losing so many of the world's great forests, despite the best efforts of conservationists. Canada's Boreal Forest offers what may be our last, best chance to do things right, but only if our leaders act decisively and act now."
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. In the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, deforestation was identified as a significant source of green house gas emissions.
"The Boreal Forest stores large quantities of carbon and provides a shield against global warming and critical habitat for countless species of birds, fish and wildlife," said Dr. Terry Root, Stanford University Professor and author of several reports as a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). "The world's scientists urge Canada to take action now by implementing the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework."
The scientists' letter recommends preserving a minimum of half of Canada's Boreal Forest in protected areas while allowing only carefully managed development on the rest, in accordance with the Boreal Conservation Framework, a plan already endorsed by Canadian conservation groups, 25 Canadian First Nations, and more than 75 major businesses with annual sales of $30 billion.
"Scientists recognize the urgent need to protect large parts of Canada's Boreal," said Larry Innes, Canadian Boreal Initiative's Executive Director. "We owe it to our children to strike the right balance between conservation and development - and immediate action will be vital if we hope to protect this globally important ecosystem."
"A generation ago scientists sounded the alarm about global warming, but we didn't listen. Let's not make that mistake again," said Steve Kallick, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts' International Boreal Conservation Campaign (IBCC). "Canada's Boreal is a critical part of earth's life support system. Scientists are warning us not to pull the plug."
The Canadian Boreal Initiative brings together First Nations, conservationists, industry, and others to link science, policy and conservation activities in Canada's Boreal.
The Boreal Songbird Initiative is dedicated to outreach and education about the importance of the Boreal Forest to North America's birds.
The International Boreal Conservation Campaign (IBCC) is an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts working to protect the world's Boreal Forest ecosystem with a special focus on Canada's Boreal Forest.
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