By: The Globe and Mail
A Quebec boreal forest will see about 1.3 million acres – more than a third of its land – protected from logging, the provincial government and the Grand Council of the Crees announced Monday.
The Broadback Forest, located about 800 kilometres north of Montreal, is part of Canada’s boreal region and is crucial for the survival of the boreal woodland caribou, a threatened subspecies best known for its likeness on the Canadian quarter.
Nicole Rycroft, the founder and executive director of environmental group Canopy, which was involved in the Broadback negotiations, said protection from logging is critical for the forest.
“Logging in Canada’s boreal has been rife with controversy, largely due to the lack of there being adequate protection. … The Broadback has been recognized as one of those high-value – ecologically as well as culturally – regions in Canada’s boreal forest,” Ms. Rycroft said.
An important aspect of the announcement is the decision to preserve intact areas rather than areas already fragmented by logging, said Justina Ray, the executive director of the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada. Boreal woodland caribou need intact areas in order to thrive, she explained.
“They really require large intact pieces of forest. Experience suggests – and there’s a lot of good evidence for this – that the more development takes place in their ranges, the more likelihood there is that they cannot persist,” she said, adding that caribou have been in decline in Southern Ontario regions that have been fragmented by logging.
The announcement hews closely to the Broadback Watershed Conservation Plan, a 2013 proposal by the Grand Council of the Crees that called for protection of all 3.2 million acres of the forest.
Ms. Rycroft said she wants to see the whole forest protected and hopes other forests in the boreal region receive more attention now.
“We see this as setting the pace for other jurisdictions across Canada that have boreal forest,” she said.