Canada's Boreal Region

The Wilderness Committee has worked on boreal forest research and protection for decades. We were inspired to take action because the boreal forest makes up over half of Canada, is threatened on multiple levels by numerous industrial activities such as the tar sands, and has many wildlife and plants that are declining. In response to these threats we opened the Boreal Research Station in northern Alberta in 1992. The wildlife research we conducted in partnership with the University of Alberta and Forestry Canada led to the creation of Alberta’s largest provincial park, the Caribou Mountains Wildland Park.

Our boreal studies also led us to conclude that scientific understanding of how boreal ecosystems function is in its infancy and that research on boreal forests is inadequate to justify massive extractive resource activity such as oil and gas, tar sands, mining and logging.  Recent studies have found that the carbon stored in our boreal forests is equivalent to more than 900 years of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Another study found that the boreal forest in Canada is worth 13.8 times more than the combined value of all resource extraction. We must use precaution when managing the boreal forest. Industrial activities must be ecologically justified, and protected areas be prioritized.

The Wilderness Committee continues to strive to unlock the mysteries of boreal forest ecology with cutting-edge exploratory and natural history research with the goal of helping identify protected area proposals. In 2009 the Wilderness Committee completed a survey of birds in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. This research inspired a unique publication called “Canada’s Threatened Bird Nursery; the Boreal Forest” in which we chronicle the collapse of many boreal bird populations and identify an area that should be a priority for protection called the Bird Nursery Conservation Area. We also recently produced a report chronicling the negative effects of the tar sands on climate and ecology, and tar sands mail-in opinion postcards addressed to the Canadian Prime Minster and American President Barack Obama.

The need for boreal forest protection goes beyond birds; many other plants and wildlife, including numerous endangered caribou herds rely on a healthy boreal forest. We have joined numerous other organizations in calling for the protection of 50% of the boreal forest, including areas encompassed by tar sands land holdings in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and the East Shore Wilderness in Manitoba and Ontario.

Photo Credit: Garth Lenz

Google Map of Canada's Greater Boreal Region

Boreal Forest (core) is shown in green, Taiga (stunted boreal northern transitional forest, transition to treeless arctic tundra) is shown in orange, Aspen Parkland (southwestern boreal transitional forest, transition to prairie grassland) is shown in yellow, Great Lakes Forest (southeastern boreal transitional forest, transition to deciduous forest) is shown in purple. At least 50% of the Boreal Forest core is proposed for protection. Note that the boundaries are at a coarse scale and are not very accurate if you zoom in too much.

View Canada's Greater Boreal Region in a larger map

Recent Developments

33 weeks 2 days ago
NORTH BAY — The Wilderness Committee is condemning the Quebec government's plan to capture the remaining wild boreal woodland caribou in the province’s Val d’Or region and move them to a zoo-based captive breeding program.
33 weeks 2 days ago
NORTH BAY — The Wilderness Committee is condemning the Quebec government's plan to capture the remaining wild boreal woodland caribou in the province’s Val d’Or region and move them to a zoo-based captive breeding program.

Take Action

Help protect the Lower Bird River

Write a letter!

The Bird River is a real conservation hotspot in Manitoba, one that we’ve highlighted in our recent educational report, Wild Manitoba: 5 Natural Treasures at Risk. This region encompasses a wealth of wildlife, is relatively pristine and is accessible for many people by foot or by paddle.

However, mining plans pose an imminent risk to the Bird River. 

Cabot Corporation, the company that operates the Tanco Mine at Bernic Lake, proposed a plan to drain water from Bernic Lake – a lake that has been contaminated from their mine operations – into the Bird River. After many Manitobans appealed to the provincial government about this issue, the application to drain the lake was withdrawn. But a new mining claim has been discovered on the banks of the river.

The Wilderness Committee is proposing a new protected area to encompass the lower Bird River, one that will protect it and the surrounding lands for future generations.

Please join us in our campaign by sending a letter to the Manitoba government, asking them to permanently protect the lands and waters of the lower Bird River.

Write a letter now >>


Photo: The lower Bird River (Eric Reder).

Help Stop the Manitoba "Peat Rush"

Manitoba is suffering from a “peat rush” right now, with companies currently trying to get approval to strip mine thousands of hectares of boreal lowlands to harvest peat moss. Peatlands, however, are an important part of a healthy Manitoba environment.

Peatlands, which are all wetlands, are natural filters that provide and store clean, clear fresh water. Peat lowlands also provide important habitat for unique plant species like the carnivorous pitcher plant (right), as well as moose. But the most significant benefit of peatlands is that they store vast amounts of carbon, which helps mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Mining peat will reduce or eliminate all of these ecological benefits.

Please write to the Minister for Conservation and Water Stewardship, and let him know your opinion on this important public land issue.

Write your letter today!

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Friday, September 5, 2014 (All day)
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