The Boreal Forest of Canada: Our Last Great Wilderness
Stretching from Alaska to the Atlantic, the Canadian Boreal forest is more than twelve times the size of California and represents one of the greatest conservation opportunities in the world.
Most of the Boreal is the traditional territory of Canada’s aboriginal peoples, and critical habitat for bears, wolves, the threatened woodland caribou, as well as over 40% of North America’s waterfowl and 30% of our songbirds. Forest clear-cutting and pollution from logging and processing operations threaten the health and continuity of many of these populations.
Because the Boreal holds more carbon than any other terrestrial landscape, its conservation is imperitive. Degrading the Boreal landscape threatens to transform the Boreal from one of the few healthy “lungs of the planet” into a net climate destabilizer.
Despite its importance, an area the size of Delaware is cut in the Boreal every year, the majority of which goes to make pulp and paper for export to the U.S.
U.S. Southern Forests
The South is home to the U.S.’s largest and most diverse, unprotected native forests. These forests contain the highest concentration of tree species in North America as well as freshwater aquatic species in the world – and are listed as “critically endangered” by the World Wildlife Fund.
Currently, the Southern U.S. is the largest paper producing region in the world, producing 75% of the U.S.’s paper and 15% of the world’s paper. More than half of this region’s native forests have been cut in the past 50 years to make way for tree plantations.
As native forests give way to pine plantations and chipmills, hundreds of plant and animal species may be lost forever. See The Dogwood Alliance for more information
U.S. Public Lands
For at least 18,000 years, North America's ancient temperate rainforest stretched over 3,000 miles along the Pacific Ocean coast, connecting Sitka Spruce in the area now called Alaska with the Redwoods of what is now called California. Today, outside British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest, only 10% of that ancient rainforest remains. The vast majority of this remnant is located on public lands in the United States. These lands stretch from California, Oregon, Washington all the way to Alaska's Tongass and Chugach National Forests.
The hardwood forests of the Eastern U.S. Are equally as important and have been decimated over the last hundred years and largely remain only on public lands. They are key for ecological diversity, recreation, local communities, and air and water supply.
Though the forests on U.S. public lands are critically endangered, large U.S. companies are rapidly destroying them. At current logging rates, another 300,000 acres of old-growth forests alone could be destroyed by the year 2020. All of this logging is totally unnecessary because less than 4% of the U.S. wood supply comes from its public lands, and all of this wood could be supplied from forests that are not endangered. And what does the U.S. public think about the logging on its lands? By overwhelming majorities, Americans have repeatedly expressed their opposition to wood products that come from U.S. public lands.
51 million acres of roadless areas in our National Forests which were protected under Executive Order are now on the chopping block as the current administration has proposed that protection be voluntary on state-by-state basis. This will likely result in the destruction of the most pristine of our remaining roadless areas.
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