Monday, September 10, 2007

THE LARGER P-PATCH -- The Boreal Forest is Earth's Green Crown

Since lots of subject matter lately has involved oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, near the arctic circle, that only drives home the unattractive truth about human encroachment into the once seemingly untouchable reaches of the planet.

It seems the human imprint is being stretched across every square mile of terra firma---and it's only a matter of time before all of it's determined as a resource or to be preserved---essentially either gallowed in the mail as a harvesting project, or protected through our efforts. If governments are going to take count of what resources exist out there, then we need to take the extra measures to be part of the process of helping them determine how we preserve what precious gems we still have---especially if the survival and longevity of the planet, animal species, and OUR species (we're known as homo sapiens, FYI) depends on it.

That being said, I thought I’d bring attention to an article on the Boreal Forest, which stretches across Canada and Russia. My understanding of this expanse of northern woodlands is that it produces much of the oxygen we breath. The series Planet Earth televised earlier this year covered the Boreal Forest and its importance to the planet in a very impressionable documentary. See the article below the map.

In the far-north latitudes, just below the treeless tundra of the polar region, a forest of evergreen trees encircles the earth. This is the boreal forest, and it is the biggest terrestrial ecosystem in the world. It is also largely intact, free of roads and industrial development -- especially in Canada, where more than 1.3 billion pristine acres are found. The global boreal forests are larger than even the Amazon rainforest.

Like the Amazon, the boreal forest is of critical importance to all living things. Its trees and peatlands comprise one of the world's largest "carbon reservoirs"; carbon stored in this way is carbon not released into the atmosphere, where it would trap heat and accelerate global warming. Its wetlands filter millions of gallons of water each day. And as a vast and intact forest ecosystem, it still supports a natural food web, complete with large carnivores like bears, wolves and lynx along with thousands of other species of plants, mammals, birds and insects. The boreal forest is also home to hundreds of First Nations communities, many of which rely on fishing, hunting and trapping for their livelihoods.

Despite its global significance, Canada's boreal forest is in great danger today. Large industries -- timber, mining, oil, gas, and hydropower companies -- are eyeing it for development, and less than 8 percent of the boreal forest is protected from large-scale industrial development. NRDC is partnering with many other environmental groups and with First Nations to forge lasting agreements that will ensure the survival of Canada's boreal forest -- to stay abreast of our work in the boreal, bookmark this page and check back. And to learn when you can take online action to help protect the boreal, subscribe to Earth Action, NRDC's biweekly email alert.

Related Pages
The Boreal Forest: Links
An Interview with Chief John Miswagon of the Pimicikamak Cree
Through the Trees: The Truth Behind Logging in Canada --> America's Gas Tank: The High Cost of Canada's Oil and Gas Export Strategy -- An October 2002 report from NRDC and the Sierra Club of Canada.

One of my points here, now having highlighted an article by these guys for the 3rd or 4th time, is that NRDC is an excellent resource for hot button topics as they arise, and they have the best success rate of any environmental organization—however, I believe their strongest suit is their ability to dial their subscribers like myself into taking action through letters to Congress, Senators, the White House, domestic officials, and foreign government officials.

Wherever there’s something being put on the stake to be torched, these guys are the hawk’s eye to get on top of it right away. I wonder if they’re hiring right now… S

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