Boreal Forest is World's Carbon Vault



    Breakthrough Mapping Analysis Looks at Peatlands, Permafrost and Soil
    Carbon in Canadian Boreal

    Full Mapping Analysis available at:
    http://www.interboreal.org/globalwarming/

    OTTAWA, Dec. 7 /CNW Telbec/ - Breakthrough maps released today at the
United Nations conference on climate change illustrate the vastly important
role of Canada's Boreal Forest as the world's largest terrestrial carbon
storehouse. Three maps, presented during a larger overview of climate change
and the Boreal Forest, detail the distribution of peatlands, permafrost, and
organic carbon in soils across Canada's Boreal Forest.
    "The Boreal Forest is to carbon what Fort Knox is to gold," said Jeff
Wells, the Senior Scientist at the International Boreal Conservation Campaign
(IBCC), an initiative of the Pew Environment Group. "It's an internationally
important repository for carbon, built up over thousands of years. The maps
released today document where and how these vital carbon reserves are
distributed across Canada. We should do everything we can to ensure that the
carbon in this storehouse is conserved."
    With 50 percent of the world's remaining original forests stretching
across Canada, Alaska, Russia and Scandinavia just below the Arctic, the
Boreal is the largest land reservoir of carbon on Earth. Globally, the Boreal
Forest houses 22 percent of the total carbon stored on the world's land
surface. This is largely because in boreal climates, the colder temperatures
reduce decomposition rates, resulting in deep organic soils that are thousands
of years old.
    Scott Goetz, a Senior Scientist at Woods Hole Research Center, noted,
"The mapping analysis released today provides vital information to inform
modeling of the role of boreal and arctic ecosystems and their feedbacks to
the global climate system." Canada's Boreal Forest stores an estimated
186 billion tons of carbon in its widespread forest and peatland
ecosystems-the equivalent of 27 years' worth of global carbon emissions from
the burning of fossil fuels. Global Forest Watch Canada compiled the detailed
analysis for the International Boreal Conservation Campaign (IBCC) after
reviewing extensive government and scientific data of the region. This
globally significant carbon storehouse is due to three key factors:

    Canada's Boreal Forest Includes the World's Largest Peatlands

    Peatlands are recognized worldwide as highly important for carbon
storage, storing at least six times as much carbon per hectare as forested
mineral soils. Canada has the largest area of peatlands in the world,
encompassing 12 percent of the nation's land area. The map released today
illustrates the vast Boreal peatlands that stretch from Quebec and Labrador
westward to the Mackenzie Valley, with significant concentrations in northern
Ontario and Manitoba.

    Vast Permafrost Areas are Key to Carbon Storage

    Permafrost, or permanently frozen ground, occupies about 25 percent of
the world's and 50 percent of Canada's total land area. The permafrost map
released today shows that the northern portions of Canada's Boreal
Forest-particularly the western Boreal region-are occupied by vast areas of
carbon-rich permafrost.
    "The carbon frozen into Canada's permafrost, including roughly a third of
the Boreal region, is one of North America's largest stores of carbon," said
Dr. David Schindler, a Professor of Biology at the University of Alberta in
Edmonton. "It's similar to a bank vault containing one of the world's most
valuable and most influential resources for impacting climate change."

    Boreal Soils Rich in Carbon

    The third map of the analysis depicts the carbon stored in Canadian
Boreal soils. The map shows several carbon hotspots distributed across Canada.
Nearly 90 percent of the organic carbon found in Canadian soils occurs in
Boreal and Tundra ecosystems.

    Canada's Boreal Region is Life-Support for Planet

    "Clearly, Canada's Boreal region is a life-support system for the planet
because of its key role in carbon storage," said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz,
Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Canada Program. "The world
recognizes that tackling global warming involves both reducing emissions and
stopping deforestation and forest degradation. Obviously, the growing tar
sands destruction and associated carbon emissions in Alberta will seriously
hamper Canada's ability to meet its commitment under Kyoto. It is our hope
that the Canadian government will reduce emissions from tar sands development,
continue taking steps to protect the Boreal and recognize its tremendous value
as a global carbon storehouse."

    The Canadian Government's Growing Conservation Momentum

    Today's maps are released just weeks after two historic government
announcements. On November 21, Canada's federal government announced
25 million acres of new land protection for the Northwest Territories in
Canada's Boreal, and in a key speech last week, the provincial government of
Ontario pledged to "work with northern and native communities in Ontario's far
north to implement a plan that protects the boreal forest-a key contributor in
the fight against climate change."
    These announcements were welcomed by conservation groups in both Canada
and the United States. Larry Innes, Executive Director of the Canadian Boreal
Initiative (CBI), noted, "The Government of Canada's move to protect
25 million acres of Boreal land in Canada and the pledge from Ontario are
examples of the type action required to protect this critical carbon
storehouse."

    Boreal Forests at Bali

    Although the forest agenda at the Bali Climate Change Conference focuses
on tropical deforestation and degradation, the parties to the conference will
also be deciding on a 2008 workplan to discuss forest rules in developed
countries as well. Chris Henschel, the National Manager of Conservation and
Climate Change for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), said,
"The developed world needs to change forest rules under the Kyoto Protocol to
ensure that the carbon stored in ecosystems like the boreal are protected from
degradation by industrial activity."

    Advisory of Key Bali Events - Saturday, December 8
    --------------------------------------------------

    The new Boreal Mapping Analysis will be officially released at a press
briefing at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, December 8, in the main Auditorium press
conference room of the Bali International Convention Centre (BICC) as part of
the UN Climate Convention COP in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia. A more in depth
discussion will follow at 4:00 p.m. as part of the IBCC Forest Day Side-Event
in the Banda Room at the Ayodya Resort in Nusa Dua.

    Web Resources Additional information and full press materials are
available at http://www.interboreal.org/globalwarming/




For further information:

For further information: U.S. & Canadian Contacts: Larry Innes,
Executive Director, Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI), (613) 230-4739 ext. 226
(office), linnes@borealcanada.ca; Peter Lee, Executive Director, Global Forest
Watch Canada, (780) 914-6241 (mobile), peter@globalforestwatch.ca; Jeff Wells,
Senior Scientist, International Boreal Conservation Campaign (IBCC), (207)
458-8492 (mobile), jeffwells@gwi.net; David Schindler, Biology Professor,
University of Alberta, (780) 492-1291 (office), d.schindler@ualberta.ca;
Charles Tarnocai, Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, (613)
759-1857 (office), tarnocaict@agr.gc.ca; Pascal Badiou, Research Scientist,
Institute for Wetlands and Waterfowl Research, Ducks Unlimited Canada, (204)
467-3277 (office), p_badiou@ducks.ca; Bali, Indonesia Contacts: Susan
Casey-Lefkowitz, Senior Attorney / Canada Program Director, Natural Resources
Defense Council (NRDC), 081 353 004963 (local number in Bali),
sclefkowitz@nrdc.org; Chris Henschel, National Manager of Conservation and
Climate Change, Canadian Parks and Wildlife Society (CPAWS), +62 81 338 979
608 (local number in Bali), chenschel@cpaws.org; Scott Goetz, Senior
Scientist, Woods Hole Research Center, (508) 540-9900 ext. 130 (office),
sgoetz@whrc.org Sue Libenson, Media Director, International Boreal
Conservation Campaign (IBCC), 087 861 006762 (local number in Bali),
sue@interboreal.org; Tzeporah Berman, ForestEthics, (604) 313-4713 (mobile
number in Bali), tzeporah@forestethics.org

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Canadian Boreal Initiative

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