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04/03/2009

Quebec Protects 4.5 Million Acres

Earlier this week, on the heels of Congress passing the omnibus lands bill, our neighbors to the north passed their own enormous protection measure.  On March 29, Quebec's Premier Jean Charest announced the creation of 14 new national parks in the famed Canadian Boreal Forest totalling around 4.5 million acres.  This sweeping annoucement means that 8% of all the land mass in Quebec is now protected.

Borealforest2

This is extremely heartening news about one of the world's largest intact forests.  At 1.4 billion acres, Canada's boreal forest is seemingly limitless and for years has been treated and logged as such.  Recently, however, awareness of the forest as a carbon sink has begun to take root.  The forest also contains some of the world's largest populations of wolves, grizzly bears, woodland caribous and provides much of North America's freshwater; however, it is also the largest single terrestrial carbon storehouse in the world.  It stores 186 billion tons of carbon or the equivalent amount of 27 years worth of the world's carbon emissions. 

In May of 2007, a group of 1500 scientists called on Canada to recognize the vital importance of the boreal forest as a carbon sink, as the largest forest and wetland habitat in the world, and as the lifeblood for hundreds of First Nation communities.  They are advocating that at least half of the Boreal Forest be protected and only careful forest management be allowed on the rest.  While there is still a long way to go, Premier Charest announced that he plans to up the protected areas to 12% of the land mass in the more populous southern Quebec and 50% of the land in northern Quebec.

Read the Montreal Gazette story.       

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