Canada Makes a 'Globally Significant' Conservation Move

Protected boreal forest will cover 26K square miles in Alberta, Canada
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2018 6:00 PM CDT
World's Largest Protected Coniferous Forest Is Born
Pine Lake in Alberta's Wood Buffalo National Park.   (Wikimedia/Ansgar Walk)

Canada will soon be home to the largest protected boreal, or coniferous, forest on the planet. On Tuesday, the Alberta government announced a plan for the creation of three new provincial parks bordering on Wood Buffalo National Park, as well as the creation of a fourth park to the south. The 5,200 square miles of newly protected land will balloon the conservation zone, where logging and oil and gas exploration is banned, to more than 26,000 square miles, roughly the size of West Virginia. A rep for the Nature Conservancy of Canada says the "incredible size" makes it "globally significant," per the CBC. "It's really the matrix of forest and wetlands and waters—and we can protect those at a scale that is an opportunity lost in the rest of the world," an NCC biologist adds, per the BBC.

Alberta's indigenous communities are heavily involved, with education and monitoring agreements for the parks in the works. The Tallcree First Nation also agreed to relinquish its timber license to establish one of the new parks. "I could almost see the boreal forest coming down around us on a daily basis," Chief Rupert Meneen tells the BBC, which notes the area is home to threatened species like the wood bison, woodland caribou, and peregrine falcons. "It was important we try to at least leave some of the forest for the future generations." The move comes shortly after a study found large swaths of Canada's boreal forest are at risk of disappearing by the end of the century as a result of climate change elevating the risk of wildfires, drought, and invasive bugs, reports the National Observer. (Poachers' new target: ancient trees.)

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