Canada's Boreal Forests

The largest intact forest in North America.

The Boreal Forest—North America’s bird nursery—is one of the largest intact forests left on Earth. Stretching from Alaska to Labrador, it provides nesting grounds and migratory stopovers for nearly half of the common bird species found in North America. Every fall, up to 5 billion birds pour out of the forest and fly south to backyards, parks, and wildlands throughout the Western Hemisphere. Caribou, bears, wolves, lynxes and wolverines, and countless other species thrive in the boreal in numbers rarely seen elsewhere.

The boreal forest captures and stores enormous amounts of carbon, especially within its soils, peatlands and permafrost. Canada’s Boreal Forest alone holds about 12 percent of the world’s land-based carbon reserves. It is home to a quarter of the world’s wetlands, with millions of lakes—including some of the largest and most pristine on Earth—and the longest free-flowing rivers remaining in North America.

Science-based conservation strategies help to protect large stretches of the boreal forest from the threats of development and the effects of climate change. Thankfully, the last 10-15 years have brought some of the world’s largest modern land-conservation designations, which protect critical habitat for tens of millions of migratory birds.

Indigenous Nations are responsible for many of the most ambitious current proposals to preserve boreal lands. Together, these Indigenous-led proposals could protect more than 100 million acres of boreal forest.

  • In the Northwest Territories, the Łutsël K’e Dene First Nation worked with the Canadian government to create the Thaidene Nëné National Park Reserve, one of the biggest protected areas in the country.

  • Nearby, the Sahtu Dene plan to conserve an area 12 times the size of Yellowstone National Park across lands that store enormous amounts of carbon—the equivalent of almost 35 years of Canada’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Several other Indigenous Nations have proposed protected areas that will preserve bird nesting grounds, caribou habitat, and wild salmon runs.


Audubon Americas is working to elevate public support for initiatives such as the Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas program and Indigenous Guardians programs across Canada. Our Boreal Conservation program is a key part of Audubon’s total-flyway conservation vision that focuses applied science to ensure that bird conservation efforts are initiated at the places and at the scales necessary to protect birds throughout their full lifecycles. The Boreal Conservation program currently has three major areas of focus:

Voices for Boreal Conservation – increasing awareness of and support for boreal conservation

Boreal Conservation Science – developing science that highlights the conservation values and priorities for the boreal forest region

Support for Indigenous-led Conservation – working in collaboration with Indigenous governments and communities to advance their conservation and land stewardship goals across the boreal forest

To stay informed on Audubon's Boreal Conservation work, sign up for updates today!  



Boreal Forests Team

Jeff Wells

Jeff Wells

Vice President, Boreal Conservation

Lane Nothman

Lane Nothman

Program Director, Boreal Conservation

Rebecca Sentner

Rebecca Sentner

Senior Communications Manager, Boreal Conservation

Carrie Gray

Carrie Gray

Boreal Conservation Specialist

Véronique Couttee

Véronique Couttee

Knowledge Transfer and Outreach Specialist (Audubon/Ducks Unlimited Canada)

Kohl Barrault

Kohl Barrault

Indigenous Collaboration Coordinator

Boreal Forest News

American Golden-Plover standing on the ground.
Boreal Forests

A Conversation with James Fox and Dr. Christian Artuso

By James Fox and Dr. Christian Artuso.
September 29, 2023 — Another chapter in Tullik’s Odyssey
Canada's flag illustration
Boreal Forests

Canada Shows Leadership in Halting Biodiversity Loss

By National Audubon Society
August 31, 2023 — Audubon commends the Government of Canada’s global and domestic leadership on conservation and biodiversity.
Wet American Golden-Plover standing on the ground.
Boreal Forests

Tullik’s Odyssey Continues into the Boreal Forest and Across Canada

By Rebecca Sentner
August 24, 2023 — An interview with Jeff Wells, Vice President of Boreal Conservation with National Audubon Society on the American Golden-Plover Southbound Migration Project.
Boreal Chickadee
Boreal Forests

Boreal Forest Experiences Record-breaking Wildfire Season

By Rebecca Sentner and Jeff Wells
July 25, 2023 — Why it should matter to all of us and what can be done about it.

How Do Wildfires in Canada’s Boreal Forest Affect Birds Across the Continent?

By Anna Gibbs
June 22, 2023 — Hundreds of fires continue to blaze in what officials say could become Canada’s worst fire season in recorded history.
Behind-the-scenes photo of Tomas Koeck with his camera.
Boreal Forests

New Documentary Will Showcase the Atlantic Flyway

By National Audubon Society
May 26, 2023 — A conversation with the filmmaker, Tomas Koeck.
Greater Sage Grouse on Sagebrush Steppe.
Audubon Americas

Building Back Biodiversity

By National Audubon Society
May 19, 2023 — Celebrating the International Day of Biological Diversity 2023
A streaky white and brown shorebird with a long beak and long yellow legs wades in shallow water.
Audubon Americas

Water: A Critical Resource for Birds and People Everywhere

By National Audubon Society
May 11, 2023 — Follow the Lesser Yellowlegs to discover important water sources and learn about all the ways they sustain life across the hemisphere.
White-throated Sparrow standing on a stump.
Boreal Forests

The Seal River Watershed Alliance and Audubon

By Jeff Wells, Audubon; Stephanie Thorassie, Seal River Watershed Alliance
April 24, 2023 — Listening to what birds tell us in order to protect the Boreal.
Male Surf Scoter floating.
Boreal Forests

The Original Winter Surfer

By Jeff Wells, Casey Arndt, Trina Bayard, Andrea Jones, and David Krause
April 17, 2023 — From the Pacific Coast to the Boreal Forest

Finding Boreal Birds with Jeff Wells

Boreal Conservation Reports and Other Documents

Click here for an archive of reports and other important materials from the Boreal Conservation program.  

Iconic Birds of the Boreal Forest