The Boreal forest: Quebec's best asset in Copenhagen

MONTREAL, Nov. 23 /CNW Telbec/ - Today in Montreal Premier Jean Charest announced his government's plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Quebec. Today's announcement, combined with earlier pledges to protect half of the land covered by the Plan Nord, positions Quebec as a potential international leader in addressing the effects of climate change.

According to a scientific report on carbon released last week by CBI (The Carbon the World Forgot), the global boreal forest is the largest terrestrial carbon sink in the world, storing twice as much carbon as tropical forests. The majority of boreal carbon is found in soils and peat-rich wetlands, which has been overlooked to date in international agreements. There's a growing recognition internationally by scientists and some governments that intact forests and wetlands need to be recognized as significant carbon reserves in international agreements going forward.

"Quebec must make the most of its presence in Copenhagen to initiate and support new national and international mechanisms to protect the carbon stored in the Boreal forests, soils and wetlands. Quebec can use this unique opportunity on the global stage to ensure that intact forests are fully considered in the agreements that emerge," said Suzann Méthot, the Canadian Boreal Initiative's (CBI) regional director for Quebec. "Protecting Boreal carbon values on the ground will require partnerships between First Nations and other governments on land use priorities to ensure that natural, stored carbon reservoirs remain intact and undisturbed."Through its pledge to protect half of the land covered by the Plan Nord, an area the size of France or Texas, the Quebec government will contribute to keeping more than 13.8 billion tons of CO(2) sequestered, equivalent to 70 years of industrial CO(2) emissions in Canada.

More than 1500 international scientists have recommended that at least half of Canada's Boreal forest be protected against future disturbances. Quebec's Boreal forest represents more than 21% of Canada's Boreal forest, which in total covers an area of 1.2 million km(2) (larger than 200 of more than 223 countries worldwide).

"Boreal forests and wetlands have huge potential to help mitigate the effects of climate change. Linking land protection and sustainable development in the Plan Nord, at such a large geographical scale, is a global first that helps set Quebec and Canada up to become an international model," Ms. Méthot concluded.

The Canadian Boreal Initiative

Created in 2003, the Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI) is a not-for-profit organization that brings together diverse partners to create new solutions for Boreal conservation and sustainable development. CBI brings together diverse partners to create new solutions for Boreal conservation and acts as a catalyst for on-the-ground efforts across the Boreal forest by governments, industry, aboriginal communities, conservation groups, major retailers, financial institutions and scientists.

To view the report The Carbon the World Forgot, please visit http://www.borealbirds.org/carbonreport.shtml

SOURCE Canadian Boreal Initiative

For further information: For further information: Suzanne Méthot, Regional Director - Quebec, IBC, (514) 792-1843, smethot@borealcanada.ca

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