More Land Protected!


A lake in Quebec’s Boreal Forest
Credit: Garth Lenz

This post will be a little more news-oriented than bird-oriented, but given the massive scale of the protection I think its importance to birds should be self-evident. I also wanted to mention some of the various groups we have been working with to protect the Boreal Forest that have helped make announcements like this possible:

On Sunday, March 29, 2009, Quebec’s Premier Jean Charest announced the creation of 14 new national parks and additions to another, totaling 4.5 million acres of new protected areas in the province.

This brings Quebec’s total protected areas to just over 8% of the provinces land mass. Just 5 years ago, the total protected areas in Quebec were less than 1% of the province.

But the Premier does not plan on stopping there. Stating that protecting and restoring the economy and protecting and restoring the environment must go hand in hand, Charest pledged to bring the total percentage of protected areas in the more populated and developed southern Quebec to 12%, and to protect at least 50% of northern Quebec as a part of the Plan Nord.

These additional commitments would total more than 250,000 square miles of protected areas.

“Just five years ago, Quebec was behind the curve in protecting its natural heritage. Now it’s on its way to becoming a world leader,” said Mathew Jacobson of the Pew Environment Group. “With each new conservation addition, Quebec emerges further as a global model for sustainable economic development and land conservation.”

“We would like to congratulate the Government of Quebec as well as the First Nations and Inuit people who have taken the important decision to protect these lands. It represents good progress in the conservation of natural and cultural values. This represents important progress towards the goal of protecting at least half of Quebec’s Boreal Forest and the North,” said Harvey Locke, spokesperson for the Canadian Boreal Initiative.

On May 14, 2007, 1,500 highly respected scientists from more than 50 countries around the world, including 71 from Quebec sent a letter to Canada’s leaders to call for protection of Canada’s Boreal Forest. The scientists identified the 1.4 billion acre Canadian Boreal Forest as one of the largest intact forest and wetland ecosystems remaining on earth. It is a major source of North America’s fresh water and home to the 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 fish and wildlife. 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.

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.

The Pew Environment Group is the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-governmental organization that applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improving public policy, informing the public and stimulating civic life.

Pew supports international efforts to protect some of the world’s most important remaining wilderness areas. These include the Wild Australia Program, which seeks to protect the Australian wilderness, and the International Boreal Conservation Campaign, focused on protecting the Canadian boreal forest.

Established in 2003, the Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI) works with a wide range of conservation organizations, First Nations, industry and other interested parties to link science, policy and conservation activities in Canada’s Boreal Forest. Based in Ottawa, the CBI brings together diverse partners to create new solutions for Boreal conservation and acts as a catalyst for on the ground efforts across the Boreal by governments, industry, First Nations, conservation groups, major retailers, financial institutions and scientists.

Together, these valuable environmental groups have helped conserve large chunks of the Boreal Forest ranging from parks in the Northwest Territories to pledges to protect 50% of the Boreal Forest in Ontario and Quebec.

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