Friday, June 3, 2011

Canada's Boreal Forest Houses World's Largest Water Resource - Top scientists call boreal protection a global priority
A first of its kind report by the Pew Environment Group reveals that Canada's boreal, the world's largest intact forest and on-land carbon storehouse, contains more unfrozen freshwater than any other ecosystem. As United Nations' International Year of the Forests and World Water Day coincide, world leaders are grappling with water scarcity and pollution–and scientists are calling boreal protection a top global priority.
A Forest of Blue: Canada's Boreal Forest, The World's Waterkeeper, compiles decades of research and finds that the boreal
  • contains 25 percent of the planet's wetlands, million of pristine lakes, and thousands of free-flowing rivers, totaling more than 197 million acres of surface freshwater;
  • provides an estimated $700 billion value annually as a buffer against climate change and food and water shortages;
  • offers the last refuges for many of the world's sea-run migratory fish, including half of the remaining populations of North American Atlantic salmon;
  • maintains freshwater flows critical to forming Arctic sea ice, which cools the atmosphere and supports marine life, from sea algae to polar bears; and,
  • stores more than 400 trillion pounds of carbon in lakes and river delta sediment, peatlands and wetlands–more than any other terrestrial source in the world.
Canada’s boreal forest is increasingly impacted by large-scale industrial activities. Global demand for resources from the boreal is on the rise, with more than half of total exports of forest products, oil, natural gas and hydropower going to the United States.
The Pew Environment Group has worked with First Nations, conservation groups, federal, provincial and territorial governments to protect the boreal, resulting in 185 million acres set aside from development to date, including key wetland and river areas. That total represents more than 12 percent of the 1.2 billion-acre forest.

The report concludes that governments should protect entire river, lake and wetland ecosystems by preserving intact 50 percent of Canada’s boreal forest requiring sustainable practices for industrial activities taking place in the remaining areas.
Pew Environment
Press Release dated March 16, 2011

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