What makes the Broadback so rich, so valuable?

The cultural heritage of First Nations communities

Hunting, fishing and trapping remain at the core of the Cree way of life and are still supported by the health and abundance of the Broadback Forest ecosystem. To sustain these important cultural values, the Grand Council of the Crees are proposing both a new approach to forest management for the entire Broadback watershed, the traditional territory of several Cree First Nations, and legislated protection of an area totalling 13,000 km2 Learn more about the Cree’s unified approach to conserve the Broadback.

Habitat for threatened species

The Broadback Forest is home of woodland caribou herds as well as other severely endangered species, such as Golden and Bald Eagles. To protect woodland caribou populations, large conservation areas need to be created in Quebec’s Boreal. A joint study by Quebec’s Ministry of Natural Resources and the Cree Regional Authority confirmed two caribou herds in the region are no longer self-sustaining. This means they are on the brink of extirpation (local extinction). Action now to conserve the full proposed Broadback protection area would secure the best quality habitat in the commercial forestry zone and ensure connectivity between local caribou populations – a factor essential to their long-term survival.

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A significant carbon storehouse

The old growth trees, bogs and soil in the Broadback’s intact landscape absorb tonnes of greenhouse gases, help mitigate climate change and serve as a critical carbon storehouse. Scientific studies indicate soil disturbance resulting from road-building and logging can release stored carbon into the atmosphere, adding to the burden of greenhouse gases.

Intact forests are becoming rare

Intact old growth and virgin forests are rapidly vanishing in Québec’s Boreal Forest.  Over 90% of the province’s commercially viable and ecologically rich forests have already been logged.  This makes the remaining 10% of intact (virgin) forests left in the province’s commercial forest region rare and of tremendous ecological value. Protecting significant tracts of these intact forests that remain is of critical importance for human communities, the bird and animal species that rely on them and the ecological services they provide.

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Photo by Mélissa Filion

Broadback protection, a scientifically valid solution

In a report commissioned by Quebec’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife, a team of scientific experts pulled no punches in recommending major expansion to the province’s network of protected areas.

The in-depth study on the status of threatened woodland caribou was frank in its conclusion that three populations of Quebec’s caribou (Assinica, Nottaway and Temiscamie) have reached a tipping point. The scientific evidence effectively supports the Cree First Nation’s strong call for protection of the full 13 000 km 2 of the rich and ecologically critical Boreal Forest of the Broadback..

“To facilitate population recovery we recommend avoiding further development within areas known or presumed to be occupied by woodland caribou” states the report by Quebec’s Caribou Scientific Task Force.

Consult the science report here.

Moreover, the Quebec government evaluated the performance of its own protected area network in 2010 and acknowledged that major improvements are necessary.  In fact, the study concluded that it is necessary to create large protected areas (of at least 10,000 km2 each) if we are to address climate change, the needs of species that require large habitat range or old growth forest representation.

Read the performance analysis here.