By the Numbers: The Boreal Forest


illustration by Marco Cibola

The North American boreal forest stretches from Newfoundland to Alaska. In it: 5 million square kilometres. One quarter of the earth's original forest. 80% of the world's unfrozen fresh water. 136 Billion tons of sequestered carbon. Three billion migrant landbirds every summer. But with the easy sources of energy disappearing and the insatiable demand for Kleenex, there are also scary numbers. Two hectares are clearcut every minute. In Ontario alone, 4400 mining claims have been staked. 1,000 square kilometres are staked for coal bed methane production. 62,000 kilometres of logging roads run through it. According to the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework, the portion that should be park and preserve: 50%. The portion that should be managed sustainably: 50%. Portion that actually is protected, notwithstanding the Government's pledge to "institute meaningful planning": 5%. Scary. Read the Fight for the Forest by Tim Tiner in ::On Nature magazine, unfortunately not online.