Our Work

Boreal Forest

Project Area Location

Canada’s boreal is a green halo of conifer forest that stretches across the north of the entire country, from the Yukon to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Project Area Size

5,000 kilometers long. The forest is so big that it touches almost every province and territory, covering more than half the land area of Canada.

Importance 

Canada’s Boreal Forest is a place of superlatives—largest intact forest left on Earth, largest terrestrial carbon store, life-giving to all manner of creatures. Unlike most of the world, it still pulses with ecological rhythms that have occurred since glaciers covered the poles more than 10,000 years ago. It still has wild rivers and the continental-scale migration of large animals and fish that have defined this landscape for ages. It is the spring nursery for more than 3 billion migrating birds. And it provides homes and livelihoods for millions of people, including hundreds of Indigenous communities.

Spanning 1.3 billion acres, the Boreal Forest is the Earth's largest terrestrial carbon sink, storing 208 billion tons of carbon, or 11% of the world’s total. 

Threats

Mounting pressure for resources such as timber, oil and gas, hydroelectric power, and minerals are chipping away at the boreal forest. In southern areas, the forest is being lost at a rate of 1 percent a year — a pace as rapid as the destruction of Earth’s tropical rainforests.

Forest development has affected the habitat of woodland caribou — a boreal icon widely recognized as an indicator of ecosystem health.

Our Impact

Our work here started with a five-year partnership with Tolko Industries, a company that was responsible for a 22 million-acre forest tenure in northwestern Manitoba, the largest in North America. In collaboration with three Canadian environmental groups, TNC Canada embarked on technical research with Tolko to lay the groundwork for conservation, and for stewardship of woodland caribou, an indicator of healthy boreal forests. This work showed that it is possible to conserve millions of acres of wildlife habitat while supporting a sustainable forestry sector. 

Our Approach 

We intend the technical work to be a first step—meant to support the success of planning processes, including forest management planning, Indigenous-led land-use planning and Manitoba’s efforts to develop caribou action plans to meet federal Species at Risk requirements. In 2016, in Winnipeg, we also convened a workshop of leaders from First Nations, government and industry to look at long-term strategies for rebuilding a sustainable forestry sector that integrates conservation at the right scale. 

People

More than 600 communities of Indigenous peoples occur throughout the boreal. TNC Canada works closely with indigenous communities to set the region on a path towards healthy forests and a thriving forestry-based economy.

TNC Canada supports Indigenous leadership in land use mapping and planning. We’re exploring new mechanisms for indigenous conservation areas or alternative ownership models and scoping cutting-edge green business opportunities.