Conserving Canadian boreal taiga ecoregion

Conserving North American boreal taiga ecoregions
White spruce is the most widely distributed conifer of the North American boreal forest. Along the Appalachian Mountains in eastern North America, the boreal forest of eastern Canada, is dominated by red spruce [Picea rubens] and balsam fir [Abies balsamea].

In Alaska the amount of land with at least 10% forest cover in the boreal region is estimated at about 46 million ha, or 12% of the state. Only 5.5 million ha or about 12% of the Alaska boreal forest is considered productive timberland. Alaska's boreal forest is used currently for a variety of subsistence, recreational, scientific, and other purposes. Local-scale logging has been a traditional use for much of the 20th century. Plans to accelerate logging are being considered.

The great majority of Canadian forest products sector uses the boreal forest resource. About 46% of the forests of Canada are commercially valuable, and over half of that productive forest has been devoted to timber production. The Canadian boreal forest represents nearly 7.5% of the world's forest area. Nearly 350 Canadian communities are largely dependent on forest products harvest, and more than 800,000 Canadians work directly in the forest products industry which pays Can$ 8 billion in wages and manufactures $50 billion in products. Canadian forest products exports contributed $18.8 billion to Canada's net balance of trade, which is nearly equal to the export value of energy, agriculture, fishing, and mining combined. Nearly all of the mature first growth timber, especially of southern, central, and eastern boreal Canada, is anticipated to be removed by the late 1990s. A large portion of the productive boreal forest of Alberta in western Canada was committed to large-scale forest harvest programmes in the late 1980s, and industrial forestry operations began at about the same time in southern Yukon and Northwest Territories. About 21% of Canada's forest had not been allocated by the early 1990s.

Budworms are a family of needle-bud eating caterpillars that are the most devastating insect pests of the North American boreal forest. The most recent major outbreak, which lasted from 1970 to the mid-1980s caused serious defoliation of 55 million hectares of forest - an area larger than France.

Alaska has probably the largest percentage of its surface area, about 40%, devoted to strict protection of natural habitats and species in the world. At least 25% of Alaska's productive boreal timberland is reserved by law from forest harvest. Nearly 6% of the total (commercially valuable and not) forest land base of Canada is preserved by either provincial or federal statute and a little more than 5% is withdrawn from logging by administrative policy, including areas such as stream buffers, steep, and fragile lands. Several Canadian provincial governments are considering an informal goal of placing about 12% of the forest land base, representative of all major regions and ecosystems, in protected status.

The Lubicon Cree Nation, the Innu Nation of Labrador, and the Cree of Canoe Lake, Saskatchewan are among the North American Indian peoples fighting to halt destructive resource extraction taking place on their traditional territories of the taiga ecoregion. The Algonquins of Barriere Lake, Quebec have made considerable progress towards sustainable forestry within the framework of a Trilateral Agreement (Canada-Algonquins-Quebec) signed in August 1991 whose purpose was to develop an integrated resource management plan for forests and wildlife over 10,000 km2 of the Algonquins' community land use area.

Taiga Rescue Network
Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 15: Life on Land