By Kevin Smith, National Boreal Program Manager, Ducks Unlimited Canada.
Taking the High Road in Canada’s Boreal Forest Its sheer size is hard to fathom. Earth’s largest intact forest stretches from the mountain ridges of the Yukon to the rocky shores of Newfoundland. Canada’s vast boreal forest supports 40 per cent of North America’s breeding ducks and contains 85 per cent of the country’s wetlands, making it one of Ducks Unlimited Canada’s (DUC) top conservation priorities. Superlatives of the boreal abound. It holds the largest area of freshwater on Earth, it stores higher densities of carbon than any other ecosystem, and it provides some of the last remaining intact habitat for species at risk such as woodland caribou. Development of the boreal has occurred mostly along its southern fringe but is expanding further north. Meanwhile, climate changes threatens to destabilize this vital region, which stores 20 years’ worth of global carbon dioxide emissions in its wetlands and soils. 2 | SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS MAGAZINE
DUC wants to ensure the boreal’s abundant natural resources are sustainably managed alongside a network of protected priority areas. This will conserve some of the continent’s most important waterfowl habitat, all while mitigating the release of greenhouse gases and strengthening the resiliency of this frontline region to adapt to climate change. We work with our partners to develop best management practices that help minimize the impact of development on the boreal. Our Enhanced Wetland Classification (EWC) system is the foundation of our sustainable development work. It allows land managers to map and understand the diverse network of wetlands in the boreal. Our work on road-building with the forest industry is a great example. When a road is built across a wetland, it may block the flow of water and the nutrients it carries. This can cause the wetland to dry