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Boreal Forests Need More Protection

Environmental groups have put out a report that says Canada's federal and provincial governments are failing to protect Canada's boreal forest., The report, compiled by Greenpeace, Forest Ethics and the Natural Resources Defence Council, said governments across Canada should stop industrial development in the most endangered areas of the boreal forest to allow planning for conservation and to establish protected areas.

The report states that since 1975, logging companies have cut 25 million hectares of forest -and increased clearcut forest harvesting by 40 per cent - in the process, adding to the list of 431 species considered 'at risk' on Canada's federal endangered species' list. It also alleges that large-scale industrial development from oil and gas exploration, hydroelectric expansion, mining and logging threaten the survival of many Canadian wildlife species.

Boreal forests cover almost half of Canada, about five million square kilometers. They extend across North America, Europe and Asia and occupy the northernmost and coldest zone of the northern hemisphere. Canada's boreal forest is home to timber wolves, the endangered woodland caribou, wolverines and 60 per cent of Canada's songbirds.

The Environmental groups that prepared the report urge federal and provincial governments to "move immediately to adopt temporary moratoria on development in the most endangered portions of the boreal forest."

The report has harsh criticism for virtually every province. In Manitoba, the report says, most logging is done by clearcutting and even the provincial parks are open to commercial logging. Ontario contains vast tracts of boreal forests but the report says its government has rolled back environmental protections for logging on Crown land. Quebec contains more of Canada's boreal forest than any other province but its record in protecting boreal forests is "very weak." All of the forest in Saskatchewan is boreal but today the province's forest "is being cleared faster than ever before."