Nobel Prize Winning Climate and Conservation Scientists Call Visionary Plan to Protect Vast Canadian Boreal Forest Unprecedented



    One of World's Largest Conservation Commitments: Ontario to preserve
    one-half of its Boreal Forest, more than 55 million acres

    OTTAWA, July 21 /CNW Telbec/ - As news spreads of Ontario's commitment to
protect over 55 million acres of Canada's Boreal Forest, an area the size of
the United Kingdom, leading international scientists and conservationists are
expressing their strong support for Premier Dalton McGuinty's science-based
leadership.
    "Premier McGuinty has set a new standard for Canada and the rest of the
world for land conservation by committing to one of the world's largest
conservation plans," said Dr. Joshua Reichert, managing director of the
Pew Environment Group. "Ontario's commitment to set aside half of its Boreal
Forest helps ensure the long-term integrity of a vital ecosystem. This is
truly a conservation milestone."
    Ontario's plan to protect 50 percent of its Boreal Forest is considered a
conservation science first and the size of this commitment is unprecedented in
North American history. "This is the kind of bold leadership and large-scale
thinking that the world needs as we confront the challenges of global
warming," said Dr. Terry Root of Stanford University. Dr. Root is a lead
author for the United Nations' International Panel on Climate Change, which
was awarded last year's Nobel Peace Prize. "Solutions to ensuring the survival
of species and ecosystems as they are forced to move north to adapt to our
warming planet require protection of very large unfragmented blocks of habitat
like what we see in northern Ontario. And making these areas off limits to
industrial uses helps ensure that the carbon there now doesn't get released
and make things worse," added Dr. Root.
    The announcement widely cited the recommendations made by
1,500 scientists to the Canadian Government last May to set aside at least
half of Canada's Boreal Forest in large, interconnected protected areas to
guard against climate change and protect internationally significant wildlife
populations (http://www.borealbirds.org/scienceletter.shtml). These concerned
scientists, led in part by Dr. Root, include some of the world's most notable
ecologists, climatologists, and conservation biologists.
    Scientists identify the 1.4 billion-acre Canadian Boreal Forest as one of
the world's most significant and largest intact forest and wetland ecosystems.
The Boreal Forest:

    
    - Is the world's single-largest terrestrial carbon storehouse. The
      Canadian Boreal Forest alone stores 186 billion tons of carbon -
      equivalent to 27 years of the world's carbon dioxide fossil fuel
      emissions.

    - Contains the majority of North America's fresh, unfrozen water.

    - Hosts some of the planet's largest populations of wolves, grizzly bear
      and woodland caribou.

    - Provides nesting grounds and nursery for billions of migratory
      songbirds and waterfowl; half of North America's birds are dependent on
      Canada's Boreal Forest for their survival.
    

    "The province of Ontario should be congratulated in its vision for
setting aside so much essential habitat for Boreal species," said Dr. Stuart
Pimm, Doris Duke Chair of Conservation Ecology at Duke University. "In its
commitment to protect 50 percent of its remaining intact forest, Ontario is
setting an example for the rest of Canada and, indeed, for other countries to
follow."
    Dr. David Schindler, winner of the 1991 Stockholm Water Prize, water
sciences' equivalent to the Nobel Prize, added, "Premier McGuinty has
long-term vision, recognizing that storing carbon, protecting biodiversity,
and traditional lifestyles and maintaining freshwater supplies are more
important than immediate profits. Now the rest of Canada must set aside
equivalent areas. The rapid disappearance of the Boreal Forest is of
particular concern in Alberta, where oil sands development, logging, and
mining exploration have damaged much of the Boreal outside of Wood Buffalo
National Park, a United Nations World Heritage Site."
    Scientists worldwide recommend that a target of 50 percent protection of
an ecosystem is necessary to sustain it over the long term. Overall, only
10 percent of Canada's Boreal Forest is currently protected.
    "Ontario's announcement of its intent to protect 55 million acres of
Boreal forest is a breath of fresh air to a world besieged by stories of
biodiversity loss," said Dr. Peter Raven, president of the Missouri Botanical
Garden. "It is especially noteworthy that Ontario followed the recommendations
of scientists in setting its conservation goals and one would hope that it is
a precedent for the world to follow."
    For the past decade, the Pew Environment Group, through its Canadian
Boreal Initiative project, has been working with First Nations, industry,
government and conservationists to preserve Canada's Boreal Forest, an
internationally significant ecosystem for the world's climate and
biodiversity. Industrial development, including logging, mining and oil and
gas extraction threaten Canada's Boreal Forest.

    (X)(X)(X)

    Media Availability July 21st through Justin Kenney and Lisa McCrummen.
    Contacts:

    Media Availability July 21st through Justin Kenney and Lisa McCrummen.

    Dr. Joshua Reichert, Managing Director of the Pew Environment Group
    Dr. Terry Root, Stanford University, an IPCC author, was the lead
    scientist presenting this recommendation to the Canadian government.
    Dr. Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke Chair of Conservation Ecology, Duke
    University.
    Dr. David Schindler, University of Alberta
    Dr. Peter Raven, President, Missouri Botanical Garden

    Additional Media Contacts:
    Steve Kallick, Director of the Pew Charitable Trusts' International
    Boreal Conservation Campaign
    Dr. Marcel Darveau, Head, Boreal Research and Conservation, Quebec, Ducks
    Unlimited Canada
    Dr. Jeremy Kerr, Canadian Facility for Ecoinformatics Research (CFER),
    University of Ottawa

    Additional Background:
    Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's announcement widely cites scientific 
recommendations, see
    http://www.premier.gov.on.ca/news/Product.asp?ProductID=2353.

    Ontario's announcement underscores the significance of the Canadian
Boreal Forest's global role as a carbon storehouse and the importance of
leaving that carbon in place by restricting disturbance. For further
background and mapping of carbon in Canada's Boreal Forest see
http://www.borealbirds.org/resources/factsheet-IBCC-globalwarming.pdf

    Additional information backgrounder and maps available on
www.interboreal.org.

    Ontario's sweeping conservation announcement is being widely heralded in
the press:

    "Keeping Ontario Green", Globe and Mail editorial, July 17, 2008 -
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080717.weboreal17/BNStory
/specialComment/home
    "Safeguarding the North", Toronto Star editorial, July 16, 2008 - 
http://www.thestar.com/article/460868
    "Premier Gives 'nature's way' a Chance", Toronto Star , July 16, 2008 - 
http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/460876
    "Ontario Moves to Protect Boreal Forest", CanWest, July 14, 2008 -
http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/story.html?id=20c31617-e007-4
2cf-b7d7-8f4e03c4b100 http://youtube.com/watch?v=q-aIsHsWZro





For further information:

For further information: Lisa McCrummen, (206) 321-9461,
lisa@interboreal.org; Justin Kenney, (215) 575-4816, jkenney@pewtrusts.org

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Canadian Boreal Initiative

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Pew Environment Group

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