Go inside the Carbon Vault: why it’s critical to know what’s beneath the Boreal Forest

Wetland near Swan River, Manitoba - photo provided by SRC
© Wetland near Swan River, Manitoba - photo provided by SRC

Forest ecosystems sequester large amounts of carbon in vegetation and soils, off-setting the carbon emissions we produce and mitigating climate change. The boreal forest and its associated wetlands, in particular, provide critical carbon storage to the world. Wetlands throughout Canada store nearly 100 times the carbon emissions produced by Canada and the United States combined and roughly four times the emissions produced around the globe annually.

Watch Ducks Unlimited Canada’s video: Measuring carbon stored in Canada’s boreal wetlands

“You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure”
There is currently a scientific gap in having a proven, practical method for measuring wetland carbon storage. While protocols do exist for upland forests, they don’t for the vastly more productive wetlands. Developing methods to assess carbon within forested wetlands will also help managers understand other environmental benefits. With long-lived tree species and deep deposits of peat, wetlands are unique in the role they play in regulating water quantity and quality and in the biodiversity of their bird and plant life.

New Conservation Research Seeks a Better Accounting
The Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) has connected with key partners in the forestry community to complete a three-year study of the carbon stores in the boreal forest and to develop a rapid assessment tool to measure carbon storage in wetlands. SRC is one of Canada’s leading providers of applied research, development and demonstration, and technology commercialization.

According to SRC Distinguished Scientist Mark Johnston, “We – industry, society, government – need to understand how wetlands function…The right tools and analysis can help us figure out how to minimize our impacts and maintain the health of our ecosystems.”

The study is supported by the independent, non-profit Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) through its SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program. SFI certified Program Participants Louisiana-Pacific Canada Ltd. and Spruce Products are also important contributors, as well as Ducks Unlimited Canada, a recognized leader in wetland conservation, restoration, and management.

To learn more about carbon storage, sustainable forestry, and how you can help, visit http://www.sfiprogram.org/.

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