Historic Protections For Boreal Forest the Size of Texas

The BP Gulf oil spill has occupied a lot of bandwidth recently — and rightly so, as it’s shaping up to be perhaps the single largest environmental tragedy in American history.

All the more reason, I say, to celebrate the victories when they happen. And last week, we celebrated a huge victory.

By “we” I mean the countless activists worldwide who worked with a coalition of nine environmental groups like ForestEthics, Canopy, and Greenpeace — groups that joined with a consortium of 21 logging companies from the Forest Products Association of Canada to announce one of the most historic forest protection deals ever established.

So what exactly did we win? The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, as it’s rather literally called, will protect 278,000 square miles of Boreal Forest from unsustainable logging. That’s a truly massive swath of forest, roughly the same size as Texas and New Hampshire combined, that stretches nearly coast to coast and covers some 2/3rds of Canada’s forests.

Also included in the agreement is an immediate moratorium on all logging in 112,000 sq mi of Boreal (roughly the same size as Nevada and Rhode Island combined) that comprises virtually all of the critical habitat of the threatened woodland caribou.

How huge is this? In the words of the BBC, this “will become the world’s largest commercial forest conservation deal.” The total area to be protected, according to the BBC, is equal to the amount of forest lost globally between 1990 and 2005.

So, yeah, like I said: This is huge.

A whole bunch of documents that will tell you everything you could ever want to know about this agreement can be found on the Greenpeace Canada site.

As bad as the BP Deepwater oil spill is, it’s not the only threat from oil production that we have to be wary of. The egregiously destructive tar sands are likely to become the largest single source of oil imported into the U.S.A. this year, despite the fact that the tar sands projects are decimating large portions of intact Boreal to get at the bitumen-rich soil underneath. So as the mad rush to procure what’s left of the world’s dwindling oil supply continues, it’s definitely important that we’ve protected such a vast tract of Canada’s Boreal Forest, which otherwise might have been “collateral damage” in the Peak Oil game, the same as BP seems to consider the Gulf of Mexico.

But enough about that. Go celebrate this huge victory for the world’s forests. And then let’s redouble our efforts to kick America’s addiction to oil and other dirty fossil fuels and stop global warming, or the world’s biggest forest conservation deal won’t mean a whole hell of a lot 100 years from now.

Image credit: Greenpeace

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