Protecting North America’s Boreal Forest

Named after Boreas, the Greek god of the north wind, the vast sweep of Boreal forests that crown the Earth’s northern hemisphere are among the largest tracts of intact forest left on our planet. Worldwide, the Boreal zone covers 1.9 billion hectares or 33 percent of the Earth’s forested area, creating a green halo across the world [1].

Stretching from Newfoundland to Alaska, the North American Boreal is an incredible landscape of lakes, rivers, and coniferous forests of spruce, fir, and pine interspersed with stands of poplar and birch. It is the iconic northern Canadian forest, celebrated by artists in the Group of Seven, musicians like Neil Young, and in popular culture across Canada.

Canada’s Boreal forest supports 85 mammal species, 130 species of fish, around 32,000 species of insects, and over 300 bird species. Home to bears, wolves, bison, and highly threatened herds of woodland caribou, the Boreal sustains vital human communities as far as it stretches. Over 70 percent of Canada’s Indigenous communities are located in forested regions [2].

North America’s Boreal forest provides the largest supply of surface freshwater on earth. Its soils, trees, and peatlands are one of the largest storehouses of carbon on our planet, holding an estimated 208 billion tonnes of carbon in Canada’s boreal forests alone [1].

Photo by Mélissa Filion
Photo by Mélissa Filion