Scientists: Protecting Canada’s Boreal Forest Is A Global Priority

Today marks the beginning of thousands of World Water Week festivities around the world, but despite many well-meaning efforts, world leaders are still grappling with water scarcity and pollution in hundreds of countries.

Earlier this week, a first of its kind report by the Pew Environment Group revealed that Canada’s Boreal, the world’s largest intact forest and on-land carbon storehouse, contains more unfrozen freshwater than any other ecosystem.

Scientists say that as the world’s largest water source, protecting the Boreal needs to become a global priority.

A Forest of Blue: Canada’s Boreal Forest, the World’s Waterkeeper compiles decades of research and finds that the Boreal…

  • contains 25 percent of the planet’s wetlands, millions of pristine lakes, and thousands of free-flowing rivers, totaling more than 197 million acres of surface freshwater;
  • provides an estimated $700 billion value annually as a buffer against climate change and food and water shortages;
  • offers the last refuges for many of the world’s sea-run migratory fish, including half of the remaining populations of North American Atlantic salmon;
  • maintains freshwater flows critical to forming Arctic sea ice, which cools the atmosphere and supports marine life, from sea algae to polar bears; and,
  • stores more than 400 trillion pounds of carbon in lakes and river delta sediment, peatlands and wetlands—more than any other terrestrial source in the world.

Canada’s Boreal forest is increasingly impacted by large-scale industrial activities. Global demand for resources from the boreal is on the rise, with more than half of total exports of forest products, oil, natural gas and hydropower going to the United States.

“In conservation, so much of the discussion is centered on scarcity and loss,” said Dr. Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke Chair of Conservation Ecology at Duke University and IBCSP member. “It is imperative that the world recognize and protect the fresh water that is left.”

Canada has an extraordinary opportunity that does not exist anywhere else in the world to keep its aquatic ecosystems intact and to create a positive ripple effect on the land, animals, birds and people who depend on these resources.”

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Image: Oscar Lake and surrounding mountains in the boreal forest of Canada's Northwest Territories. (The Pew Environment Group)

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Maureen D.
Maureen D.4 years ago

We don't need oil or gas. We all need to cut down our use of energy and harvest the sun's energy with wind and water energy.

Leave our green spaces alone or the human race will be doomed.

Rose Balcom
Rose Balcom4 years ago

There are thousands of o/g wells in the boreal forest in w. Canada including the megaproject the Tar Sands in Northern Alberta. The boreal forest certainly has not escaped man's industrial footprint. So you're a little too late.

Christina H.
Christina H.4 years ago

greedy human will never be satisfied until there is NOTHING natural left

Grace Johnson
Grace Johnson4 years ago

I hope hope hope they are left in tact! if there is petition to protect this place I will sign it!

Alexandra Rodda
Alexandra Rodda4 years ago

This resource must be protected. Canada is getting its own version of "Fox News", so I guess the forest and water reserves will be exploited rather than protected.

Cynthia B.
Cynthia B.4 years ago


Tim Cheung
Tim C.4 years ago


Marian D.
Marian D.4 years ago


Mikaila H.
Mikaila H.4 years ago

Protecting our planet is so important. Until now I hadn't heard of that place, but now I have I'm willing to support it. Swamplands are a necessary part of thge world and too many have been drained etc.

beverly gannon
beverly gannon4 years ago

Shawn S, i am in total agreement with u, am thinking likewise . We need people to re-unite and get something sorted b4 its all too late. The money grabbing higherarchy are to blame for all this.