secondary research - CPAWS
Canada's Boreal is home to the world's largest remaining stretches of intact forests. What's more, our Boreal forest buffers against climate change, storing large amounts of carbon providing refuge for wildlife to adapt as their habitats change. CPAWS is working across Canada to protect the Boreal's lands, waters and wildlife.
Canada's Boreal is one of the last frontier forests in the world. It provides essential services that human society depends on, like:
- Purifying the air that we breathe and the water we drink
- Slowing the pace of climate change by being the largest terrestrial storehouse for carbon
Most of the planet's other great forests have been lost to industrial development, but Canada's Boreal is still home to millions of migratory songbirds, majestic caribou herds, a diversity of fragile plants and large predators like lynx and wolverine.
The greatest threat to Canada's Boreal is industrial development and its effects, such as climate change. Although much of the forest is still relatively intact, industrial activities like logging, mining, and oil and gas development continue to eat away at our remaining wilderness areas.
Industrial activities impact the Boreal Forest by:
- damaging wildlife habitat
- fragmenting forests and wetlands with roads, seismic lines and other disturbances
- increasing human access into remote regions
- changing water and nutrient cycles
- contaminating wilderness areas with toxic chemicals
Each year, more than 8,000 square kilometres are logged in Canada.
- Much of Canada's southern Boreal forest has been licenced to logging companies.
- Approximately one million hectares of Canada's public forests and roughly 90 percent of this area is clearcut.
- Logging can cause the loss of old growth forests from the landscape, degradation of wildlife habitat and conversion of conifer-dominated forests to hardwood.
Oil + Gas
Underneath Canada's Boreal Forest lies an oil deposit the size of Florida - the oil sands.
- Alberta's Boreal Forests have already been fragmented by 88,000 oil and gas well sites, and a massive expansion of oil sands extraction is planned in the coming years.
- The development of oil sands mining leases will result in the clearing of 300,000 hectares of Boreal Forest and constructing 30,000 km of roads, leaving 80% of the remaining Boreal Forest within 250m of a road, pipeline or well site.
Over 90% of the Boreal forest is currently open for mining exploration and claim staking.
- While mine sites themselves are relatively small and isolated, the big impact comes from the network of roads and seismic lines created during exploration, and the tailing ponds and waste left behind after mining.
- Staked lands are considered 'unavailable for protection' unless the industry agrees to remove the Crown's mineral reserves.
CPAWS is playing a lead role in this ambitious agreement signed by environmental groups and forestry companies in 2010 that focuses on conserving caribou habitat and protecting important areas within 72 million hectares of Boreal forest.
- Implement world-leading sustainable forest management practices.
- Accelerate the completion of the protected spaces network for the boreal forest.
- Fast-track plans to protect boreal forest species at risk, particularly woodland caribou.
- Take action on climate change as it relates to forest conservation.
- Improve the prosperity of the Canadian forest sector and communities that rely on it.
- Promote and publicize the environmental performance of the participating companies.
The CBFA is an evergreen agreement that remains in effect until all elements have been implemented.
Jasper National Park in Alberta is one of Canada’s most spectacular and beloved national parks. Part of the UNESCO Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site, Jasper is home to Maligne Lake, one of the most photographed landscapes in the world. Maligne Tours, the commercial operator that runs daytime operations at Maligne Lake, is proposing to build a resort along the shores of this iconic lake.
The Maligne Lake resort proposal in Jasper National Park disregards the very policies and laws that are in place to protect wilderness and wildlife, now and in the future.
CPAWS is calling on the federal government to say no to overnight commercial accommodation at Maligne Lake because:
- It contradicts park policies designed to limit development
- It creates a bad precedent
- It threatens at-risk wildlife
- It doesn't respect the law
- Canadian's don't want it
- Jasper is a global treasure
WHAT CPAWS IS DOING
Working closely with the Jasper Environmental Association and other partners, CPAWS Northern Alberta Chapter and National Office are raising public awareness about Maligne Tours’ proposal and the threat it poses to Jasper’s pristine natural beauty and wildlife. We are urging the federal government to respect national park policies and laws that were put in place specifically to ensure the future well-being of park wildlife and wilderness by controlling commercial development.
By protecting caribou, you are protecting your future. Caribou need the intact ecosystems that provide the fresh air and clean water we need to survive. By saving caribou's remaining habitat in Canada?s Boreal forests and Northern tundra, we are protecting our health and a way of life for Indigenous peoples, and slowing the effects of climate change.
In the Boreal forest, the woodland caribou also transform the landscape. These caribou travel lithely through peat lands and old growth forests where none of their cousins, deer or moose, can be found. These shy creatures are indicators of the health of our Boreal forests. Where woodland boreal caribou still survive, our Boreal forests are intact and healthy. Where they?ve disappeared, the forests are fragmented and the ecosystem stressed.
Boreal woodland caribou are the largest woodland population with 30k remaining. Located primarily south of the northern Boreal tree line. Travel in small groups, summer and winter grouns are close, females use the deep forest to spacw away from predators, give birth alone, and spend several months alone with the calves.
Canada’s caribou have survived multiple ice ages, natural events like forest fires and insects that have disseminated their food sources, and, in recent past, rebounded from overhunting once the pressure was removed. In a way, they are a resilient species, adapting over time to survive in different landscapes.
However, even a resilient species cannot adapt overnight to significant changes in their landscape that directly undermine their survival strategies. Caribou are vulnerable to extensive fragmentation of their landscape, which for various reasons exposes them to more predators and decreases their access to food sources. Here is one – though by no means the only – way it happens:
- Human activity fragments forest: Logging, road-building and other forms of development like mining and oil and gas extraction fragment the caribou's Boreal forest habitat.
- Competitors & predators move in: When a disturbed forest begins to regrow, it provides lots of food for moose and deer, which in turn attract more of their primary predator, the world. The more open landscape also allows the wolf to be a more effective hunter.
- Caribou disappear: Increasing wolf numbers kill off, or extirpate, local populations of woodland caribou. The animals are left with fewer places to go where they can find food and safety from predators.
As the climate changes, natural pressures like fires and pests may also result in increased amount of young forests occurring in the landscape, further amplifying the direct human impacts on the landscape.
- Strong provincial and territorial recovery strategies implemented for at-risk caribou herds across Canada (in progress)
- Design and implementation of robust range plans for each Boreal Woodland caribou herd under the Federal Species-at-Risk Act with significant protection for core caribou habitat (in progress)
- Caribou habitat conservation proposals on lands leased to forest companies, developed with partners in the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement and with provincial and First Nation government (in progress)
- Integration of carbou conservation considerations in land use management tools, such as forest management laws, permitting regulations, and environmental impact assessments practices (in progress)