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
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Boreal Forests Team
Finding Boreal Birds with Jeff Wells
Birds of the Boreal Forest
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