Pandora’s Box: Clearcutting in the Canadian Boreal Unleashes Millions of Tons of Previously Uncounted Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Boreal forest clearcut south of Waswanipi, Quebec, November 2015

Joshua Axelrod

The Canadian boreal forest is one of the world’s most important climate regulators and carbon storehouses. Stretching over 1 billion acres, this forest has shaped myriad Indigenous cultures, hosts an astonishing array of biodiversity, and contains the world’s largest unbroken areas of primary forest. However, this precious ecosystem is under threat from industrial activity, in the form of logging, mining, tar sands production, and hydro-electric development. In just 20 years, an area nearly the size of Ohio has been cut, with a huge portion of this harvested wood converted into pulps that are used to manufacture newsprint, paper, and tissue.

NRDC conducted the following two studies to explain why Canada must do more to protect its boreal forest:

NRDC’s findings show that clearcut logging across Canada’s boreal forest is a major, unmeasured source of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. This source must be measured and reported, as understanding and addressing these emissions will be important to the global fight against climate change.