Note: This is a guest post from Steve Kallick, Director of the Pew Environment Group’s International Boreal Conservation Campaign.
In just three minutes, you can take a non-stop, coast-to-coast Google Earth narrated tour of Earth’s “green halo:” the boreal forest. The Pew Environment Group takes you over the vast northern forests and waterways and unveils an ecosystem that stores twice as much carbon per acre as tropical rainforests, holds more freshwater than any other continental-scale ecosystem and teems with wildlife. Watch the tour below or download the KML file to view in Google Earth.
The Pew Environment Group is the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a nongovernmental organization that works globally to protect our oceans, preserve wildlands and promote clean energy. Pew and its sister organization, the Canadian Boreal Initiative, developed this tour to illustrate the nature of the blue forest and its ability to store massive amounts of carbon, primarily in its soil and wetlands.
Viewers will see bears, wolves and caribou that still roam this vast landscape, learn about aboriginal communities that depend on the boreal, view the Peace-Athabasca Delta, one of the most important wetlands in the world, and the last refuges for North American Atlantic salmon.
Unfortunately, Canada’s boreal forest is increasingly affected by large-scale industrial activities. A rapidly expanding footprint of development already includes 180 million acres (728,000 km˛) affected by forestry, road building, mining, oil and gas extraction and hydropower.
Pew and CBI have worked with aboriginal communities, conservation groups, federal, provincial and territorial governments to protect the boreal, resulting in 185 million acres set aside from development to date, including key wetland and river areas. That total represents more than 12% of Canada’s 1.2 billion-acre (nearly 4.9 million km˛) boreal forest.
Photo Credit: David Nunuk