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Canada’s Boreal Forest


My name is Gord Miller. I’m a Director General
with the Canadian Forest Service. The Canadian Forest Service has
existed for over a hundred years. Most of our research efforts, and we have
been largely a science based organization over our history, has resulted in research in the boreal. It’s an ecosystem that’s been very well studied. And better studied than most
of the others on the planet. The boreal forest came about
because of the retreat of the glaciers at the end of the last
ice age and trees moving north. The boreal forest is circumpolar. It occurs in
Canada, Alaska, Russia, Scandinavia. It gets into Mongolia as well. The boreal forest is the largest
forest in Canada. It stretches from Newfoundland right
through to northeastern B.C. Canada has about 20-30% of the world’s boreal. The reason I give you that range is there’s
different definitions of what the boreal is so the number varies a little bit. We’re actually working internationally to
come up with some common definitions, common ways of measuring things. Countries define ecosystems differently,
have different ways of measuring things. So we’re working internationally to come up with some standards we hope
that all countries can respect. The boreal forest is one of the largest
ecosystems on the planet. It provides us with many environmental
services that we actually come to take for granted over the years. It provides economic opportunities. It provides
spiritual values for many peoples. It does provide clean air and
clean water to humans, it provides a home to many
different forms of wildlife. Many of the communities in Canada
are located in the boreal forest. The citizens in those communities
derive their livelihoods, they recreate, there’s many uses of the forest. It is also very important to aboriginals in Canada. 80% of the aboriginals in Canada
live in the forest generally and most of those are in the boreal. So again, it’s a community that’s very
dependent on deriving its livelihood, their spirituality, many of the cultural things that both aboriginaland non-aboriginal communities have come to expect and desire from the forest,
are derived from the boreal. The boreal forest is the source of a lot of the
resources for the industry in Canada. It’s the major source of fibre supply to the
pulp mills and saw mills in Canada. It’s also the backdrop for a lot of the tourism
type activities, the hunting and fishing, and hiking that many other people from
around the world come to enjoy. I think it’s important to remember that Canada
has well over 400 million hectares of forest. And only less than half of 1% of that
forest is harvested annually. Natural disturbances affect about five times as
much forest in Canada as does harvesting. The regulatory system with regard
to forest management in Canada is one of the strictest in the world. There’s actually been studies that look at how
policy in Canada compares to other countries. And they find that the regulatory
system in Canada is equal to or better than most other countries. The Canadian Forest Service has
been seen internationally for decades as one of the global
leaders in forest research. And certainly we have many people
that are world class scientists. I think that Canada has a lot to be proud
of given all the work that has been done. We are seen as a leader in many
areas of forest management. And other countries actually do come to
us to find out how we practice forestry and how we manage forest fires and
those sorts of considerations. The science that the Canadian Forest Service conducts has been used over the last few
decades by policy makers and by resource managers such that
our forestry practices in Canada, our forest management in Canada
is very much founded on science.

Stephen Childs

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