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Essay on Canada’s Boreal Forest

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The boreal zone, situated within the northern regions of the globe, stretches around 5000 kilometers from Labrador and Newfoundland in the east to Yukon in the west, extending south 1000 kilometers from the edge of the arctic tundra. Estimated to be around 270 million hectares, this boreal region covers more than half of Canada’s land area, sheltering millions of wildlife species. Making up a third of this boreal zone, Canada’s boreal forest is essential for not solely the tradition and culture of Indigenous people, but also the future of the world, for it stores around 12% of the carbon in the air, making this forest a major factor for the fight against climate change. Four million people depend on this forest as home including Aboriginal people, and a further 600,000 Canadians rely on the resources from the forest for their livelihoods. The climate is made up of a great fluctuation between the seasons, with short, warm, and moist summers and long, freezing, and dry winters.

The Importance of Canada’s Boreal forest

Canada’s boreal forest undoubtedly plays a significant role by not only sheltering a variety of wildlife but provides benefits that extend beyond its borders. The boreal forest consists of one of the world’s largest reserves of unexploited wood fiber. There are 20 species of trees in the forest, the main types that make up the forest canopy being larch, balsam fir, white spruce, and lodgepole pine. Most are coniferous trees, which means that they have the ability to remove amounts of carbon from the atmosphere unlike other trees through photosynthesis, as well as being able to store large amounts of carbon for thousands of years while producing oxygen. All these trees provide shade, windbreaks, and screening, in addition to shelters for mammals, birds, insects, and other wildlife. The trees, as well as all the other plants in the forest, helps improve the cycle of nutrients, making rich soil, and controlling erosions.

While trees are the dominant plant species, several different plants such as mosses, lichens, and shrubs also play a part in keeping the ecosystem a sustainable and interlocked community. Lichens grow in areas that aren’t coated by mosses, as well as on wood. They are a combination of fungi and algae that prove to be useful plants in nature, as they are food for some animals, whilst being also a material they can use for nests or homes. When they grow on rocks, the chemicals that they release contribute to the slow process of rock breakdown and soil formation.

This biome consists of wide, uninhabited landscapes with large lakes, rivers, and wetlands, filtering millions of liters of water, lessening the chances of floods and droughts, and providing ducks, as well as multiple other species living in the waters the resources that they need. Almost half of the birds in North America are supported by the boreal forest, in some way or another throughout the year. Estimated to be around 300 species, that is- 300 million birds- breed and travel through the boreal forest during migration. Swans, ravens, owls, kinglets, and woodpeckers are only a fraction of the birds who rely on the forest. Several species of mammals have adapted to suit Canada’s forest, such as the wood bison, moose, and snowshoe hares. There are more than 90 species of animals in the forest, including many that are endangered such as grizzly bears, wolverines, and whooping cranes. They also share this forest with 32, 000 insects as well- around a quarter have yet to be described. Despite being one of the most important components which make up the boreal food web- to pollinate and decompose- they are poorly understood in the biome. Every living thing in this region plays a role to help preserve the biodiversity and the variety of life on Earth, maintaining the balance in the natural resources.

As more than 500 Indigenous communities have relied on and lived in the boreal forest for thousands of years, it is important for them to keep the forest healthy and preserve the cultural values of their heritage. Moreover, as more than 17, 000 individuals of the Indigenous community rely on the forest products industry for employment, as well as 233, 900 Canadians, the forest remains a major source of people’s livelihood through employment.

Social, Environmental and Economic Impacts

Having such a diverse and beneficial ecosystem producing resources has led to much development of mining, forestry hydro dams, oil and gas production, tourism, and hydroelectric generation in the boreal forest. Currently, more than 30% of the forest has been made into some form of current or future industrial development. Consequently, these actions have resulted in habitat loss and fragmentation, weakening the natural systems as well as disturbing the wildlife that depends on large, intact areas or a specific home to survive. These impacts and changes, with pollution from industries, and diversion of water flow caused by mining and hydroelectric developments, have caused grave effects on the wildlife and the forest. A recent study estimated that Canada’s current annual deforestation rate is 92,500 hectares a year.

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Satellite data now conveys a new problem for the forest- tar sands mining. Tar sand is a mixture of clay, water, and a substance called bitumen, which is a black oil formed if bacteria are in oil. The extracting of tar sands is beneath the boreal forestland, creating outcomes that cannot be regenerated, such as how it is a non-renewable resource, producing greenhouse gases and not easily replenished. Since 2000, Canada’s tar sands region has wiped out almost two million acres of boreal forest. We can predict that if it continues, the loss of the forest will have grave effects on the livelihoods of both the wildlife and people in that their habitation will be wiped out and the loss of production will have a grave impact on businesses.

Climate change has also influenced the forest; the increase in temperature changes both the quality and quantity of water, resulting in a disturbance in the distribution of water for plants and animals. This can also lead to the less developed and weak species being wiped out due to drastic changes each year.

Management Strategies

Growing concern to sustain Canada’s boreal forest has resulted in action for change. As Canada’s boreal forest is the country’s most important resource, governments are continuously trying to find ways and an alternative to reduce the impacts of development pressures near the forest as well as to enforce laws to monitor companies, which include: abiding by the conditions of a harvesting permit, restricting what types of trees can be harvested, which are only 35 out of 180, limiting what types of animal and plant can be imported into Canada, and many more. Although there are many changes to this forest, much of it is owned and managed by the government. It is estimated that around 10% of the land is protected, making this boreal forest the most preserved than any other country with boreal forests.

Environmental organizations all around the world are spreading the word to raise awareness, teaching individuals how to reuse, recycle, and reduce the use of products from the boreal forest, and how to learn to use alternative energy sources which are good for the environment. Furthermore, independent organizations have also put in place forest management certifications, which provide assurance alongside government laws, that a company using resources from the forest is acting legally, and operating correctly with the forest management laws and regulations. These include respecting Aboriginal views and values, and ensuring that where they harvest, the forest regrows.

Despite the common belief that the forest is in danger of deforestation, Canada has overall reduced the rate of deforestation over the last 20 years, which is expected to continue. For the generations to come, people can now know that the risk of damaging the forest is slim- the management strategies have ensured the boreal forest stays healthy and productive- in fact, the rate of deforestation is one of the lowest in the globe. The most recent study in 2014 shows that deforestation in Canada is a total around 0.3% of the world’s deforestation in total.

Bibliography

Websites

  1. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. (1996). ENVIRONMENT- PICTURE STORIES. Retrieved September 3, 2019, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/04/alberta-canadas-tar-sands-is-growing-but-indigenous-people-fight-back/
  2. BOREAL SONGBIRD INITIATIVE (BSI). (2015). BOREAL FOREST. Retrieved September 3, 2019, from https://www.borealbirds.org/threats-canadian-boreal-forest
  3. The Nature Conservancy. (2019). Boreal Forest Canada. Retrieved September 5, 2019, from https://www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/places-we-protect/boreal-forest/
  4. Resolute. (2019). Boreal Forest. Retrieved September 5, 2019, from https://www.resolutefp.com/Sustainability/Conservation_and_Biodiversity/Boreal_Forest/

Articles

  1. Jimmy Thomson. (2018). Why Canada’s boreal forest is gaining international attention. The Narwhal. Retrieved from https://thenarwhal.ca/why-canadas-boreal-forest-is-gaining-international-attention/
  2. Anthony Bazzinotti. (unspecified). Boreal Forest Biome in Canada. Retrieved from https://www.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=6075024c90a34ce3ba300789b34a2925
  3. Peter Kuitenbrouwer. (2019). BATTLE FOR THE BOREAL. NATIONAL POST. Retrieved from https://business.financialpost.com/features/battle-for-the-boreal-forest-2
  4. Carys Richards. (2018). The importance of boreal forests. NATURE CONSERVANCY CANADA. Retrieved from http://www.natureconservancy.ca/en/blog/the-importance-of-boreal-forests.html#.XW3tdGx7muU
  5. Northwest Territories. (2019). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from https://school.eb.com.au/levels/high/article/Northwest-Territories/110600
  6. Elliott, C. (2000). Forest Certification: A Policy Perspective (pp. 125-168, Rep.). Center for International Forestry Research. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep02164.13

Videos

  1. NRDCflix. (11.2.2017). Protect the Boreal Forest [online video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3OU--05AdQ
  2. NaturalResourcesCa. (24.11.2010). Canada’s Boreal Forest [online video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhe5FHbmpbc
  3. NaturalResourcesCa. (25.11.2010). Natural Disturbances in Canada’s Boreal Forest [online video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bH1yAOhlmnE

Images

  1. Brandt, J. 2009. The extent of the North American boreal zone. Environmental Review. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/Ani/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/INetCache/IE/PQF2TC1Z/484.pdf
  2. Hinterland. 2002. Black spruce and feathermoss. Canada’s Boreal Forest. Retrieved from http://www.hww.ca/en/wild-spaces/boreal-forest.html
  3. N.a. 2017. WOLVERINE. ZooMontana. Retrieved from http://www.zoomontana.org/exhibit/wolverine/
  4. Cierra, D. 2015. Canadian Boreal Forests. Blogger. Retrieved from http://canadaianborealforest.blogspot.com/
  5. Cierra, D. 2015. Canadian Boreal Forests. Blogger. Retrieved from http://canadaianborealforest.blogspot.com/
  6. March 21, 2017. Putting a Value on the Ecosystem Services Provided by Forests in Canada. Nature Conservancy of Canada. Retrieved from https://images.app.goo.gl/R6P9fTAZCSXx4MF76

Books

Philip Joseph Burton. (2003). Towards Sustainable Management of the Boreal Forest. National Research Council of Canada.

  1. Boreal Forest Threats and Conservation Status. (2011). In Wells J. (Ed.), Boreal Birds of North America: A Hemispheric View of Their Conservation Links and Significance (pp. 1-6). The University of California Press.
  2. Davidson, I., Fernández, D., & Clay, R. (2011). Important Bird Areas as Wintering Sites for Boreal Migrants in the Tropical Andes. In Wells J. (Ed.), Boreal Birds of North America: A Hemispheric View of Their Conservation Links and Significance (pp. 95-106). University of California Press.
  3. W.A. Kurz, C.H. Shaw, C. Boisvenue, G. Stinson, J. Metsaranta, D. Leckie, E.T. Neilson. (2013). Carbon in Canada's boreal forest — A synthesis. Environmental Reviews, 21(4), 260-292.
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Essay on Canada’s Boreal Forest. (2023, April 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 4, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-on-canadas-boreal-forest/
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