Why We Must Protect Canada’s Boreal Forest

Not only is this forest home to millions of indigenous peoples and endangered species, it’s also indispensable in helping us win the fight against climate change.

This is a transcript of the video.

Anthony Swift, director, NRDC Canada Project: Canada's boreal forest is one of the most massive and important forests in the world. It is a forest of enormous cultural and environmental importance.

Vast areas of Canada's boreal forest are untouched and provide refuge to a rich number of species, including endangered species such as boreal caribou, grizzly bears, and wolverines.

I think many people would be surprised at how important the boreal forest is to North America's songbird population. Each year, between three to five billion songbirds go to the boreal forest to nest and then return in places throughout the entire continent and South America as well.

The boreal forest plays a critical role in protecting our climate from carbon emissions. The entire Canadian boreal contains over 300 billion tons of carbon. And in that number, it's hard to get your head around, but it is essentially as much carbon as the world emits over 36 years. So it's very difficult to overstate how important a role the boreal plays in regulating our earth's climate.

The boreal forest is under constant threat from industry. Perhaps the largest threat is industrial logging. Over the last 20 years, 25.4 million acres, an area the size of Kentucky, has been clearcut. Logging results in nearly 20,000 miles of logging road crisscrossing throughout the boreal, isolating forest stands and the species that live there, making them more susceptible to loss of biodiversity and the stands themselves susceptible to loss from forest fires and insect infestations.

We're also seeing the threat of tar sands production in the boreal. Tar sands extraction is an incredibly damaging process that requires clearcutting large tracts of forest for open mines and fragmenting other tracts to extract tar sands oil from deep underground. These industrial sites also pollute the air and water sources of nearby indigenous communities.

I've seen what people can do when coming together and facing an issue head on.

This is a part of the world that's still wild. It's home to a rich biodiversity for North America and is central to the lives and cultural practices of over a million indigenous peoples. It also plays an indispensable role in helping us win the fight against climate change.

And that's why it's so critical that we take every action we can to protect it.


Allan Saganash Jr. grew up in the bush, living off the land—then watched as industry shrank and changed his beloved boreal forest home. He’s determined to save what’s left.

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