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Canada’s temperate and vast boreal forest landscapes represent and protect some of our most valuable assets, including the air we breathe and the water we drink. CPAWS’ goal is to ensure our forest ecosystems stay healthy by conserving at least half of our Boreal forest, and to create a network of large conservation areas within the temperate forests of Eastern and Western Canada.
Forests cover 40% of the Canadian landscape. While our forests may seem like an endless renewable resource, industrial activities have impacted many of these landscapes, especially our southern, more biodiverse, and productive forests. How and where these activities are carried out have an important impact on the future health of our forests, and the human and wildlife communities they support.
Meanwhile, increased disturbances like fire and insects, brought on by climate change, are putting more pressure on our ecosystems and species, reducing their ability to adapt and recover from human disturbances.
Trees may grow back, but not overnight, not everywhere, and not always as they were before. In many of Canada’s forests, industrial activities are having a visible impact on the ecosystems. Seismic lines in Alberta and BC, and harvesting roads and other infrastructure across the country often leave the forests open for decades and are rarely truly removed.
Fragmentation leads to more forest-dependent species becoming threatened or endangered, the evolution of different tree species, and the entry of invasive species into the ecosystem – all of which can threaten the stability of the ecosystem over time.
Communities that rely on forests for their livelihoods often do so at the expense of other values the forest might be providing. ‘Boom and bust’ forestry activities, which often occurs when frontier logging is being undertaken, does not have the same value as being able to keep a steady-state forest model, with permanent settlements, value-added manufacturing and sustainable levels of employment.
Canada’s intact forest landscapes are a national wealth worth protecting
Canada is lucky to have some of the last and largest intact forests in the world. These forests play an important role in providing large areas of critical habitat for caribou, grizzly bears and other large mammals to thrive; ecosystem services including carbon storage, and clean air and water; and underpinning indigenous cultures and traditional practices in Canada.
When these areas are only seen as the next frontier to harvest, despite their distance from mills and the often high transportation costs associated with their retrieval, we are depleting a significant asset and part of our country’s most valuable infrastructure.
Over the past two decades, CPAWS has been working with governments, industry, indigenous peoples, and the public to define where and when it makes sense to cut trees by looking at social, economic and ecological considerations.
We have chapters in every province and territory in Canada thinking about the question of what makes sense, and a national chapter that keeps tracks of overall trends across the country. By looking at the issue at different scales and from different angles, we are able to identify solutions that will improve the sustainability of the management of our public forests. Whether looking at land use or forest management plans, or the citing of a transmission line, CPAWS has focused on finding solutions that make sense.
A New Climate for Conservation: Nature, Carbon and Climate Change in British Columbia explores the role of nature conservation in a climate action strategy for ecological adaptation (Part 1) and ecological mitigation
(Part 2), with the key recommendation to develop a comprehensive and integrated Nature Conservation and Climate Action Strategy for the Province of British Columbia. This report was commissioned by the Working Group on Biodiversity, Forests and Climate, an alliance of Environmental Non-governmental Organizations (ENGOs) including: B.C. Spaces for Nature, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, David Suzuki Foundation, ForestEthics, Land Trust Alliance of B.C., West Coast Environmental Law, and Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.
Partnering for conservation: How indegnous peoples and CPAWS are working together to protect ancestral territories.
Before October 2017, the federal government will need to report on the progress that has been made by all governments in implementing, and meeting the objectives of, the national boreal woodland caribou recovery strategy released in 2012 under the Species-at-risk Act (SARA). Earlier this year, CPAWS started a one-year clock, hoping to inspire governments to act before this first report. Looking across Canada today, it will be difficult to demonstrate that sufficient action has been taken to protect caribou.
This report is our second annual review of Canada’s progress in conserving boreal woodland caribou habitat since the 2012 release of the federal recovery strategy for boreal caribou under the Species-at-Risk Act (SARA).
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) has been conducting annual reviews of progress by federal, provincial and territorial governments to protect and recover Canada’s remaining boreal woodland caribou1 populations since 2013, the year after the Recovery Strategy for the Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), Boreal population, in Canada2 was issued by the federal government under the Species at Risk Act (SARA).
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