“It is difficult to realize how great a part of all that is cheerful and delightful in the recollections of our own life is associated with trees.” – Wilson Flagg, Naturalist
There’s a sadly familiar pattern that comes with environmental news stories about the world’s great forests. “Here’s why they’re too precious to squander. Here’s why we’re squandering them. Go see them while you still can.” But take heart – because on Thursday, the trees won.
The boreal forest of Canada is a natural marvel on a staggering scale. Covering well over half of the entire country and storing twice as much carbon per acre as tropical forests, it’s – you guessed it – way too precious an environmental resource for us to squander. Yet that’s exactly what some people have been trying to do – with oil and gas exploitation, hydroelectric development and loosely regulated logging galore. Thankfully, these efforts have to date been too puny to make much of a dent in this 1.3-billion acre behemoth. Given time, this story might change for the worse.
For any unscrupulous developers casting an avaricious eye over all this natural wealth – time may have just have ran out. On Thursday, members of the Forest Products Association of Canada and nine environmental organizations, including ForestEthics and Greenpeace, announced their backing for the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. First up – the suspension of 29 million hectares of logging to protect caribou habitats (and as a trade-off, environmental groups are dropping a number of “Do Not Buy” campaigns.)
So yes, go see the stunningly beautiful boreal forests of Canada. But don’t feel in any great hurry. Because thankfully, they’ll still be here tomorrow.