In this post I want to talk about the Great Northern Boreal Forest. The Boreal is the Forest the Ecologist and Green Peace etc forget, while all the media focus is on the tropical forests of the Amazon, very few journalists or members of the public look north to the Boreal yet it makes up one third of the worlds wooded land. Russia has half the Boreal forest, while Canada has a third and Alaska and Scandinavia the rest. If the tropical forest of Amazon and Central Africa are one of the worlds lungs the Boreal is the other. The Boreal has a vital role in regulating the climate and filtering out billions of tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases during photosynthesis, storing the carbon in trees roots and soil. The Boreal also contains the largest area of wet lands in the world, with over two million lakes and ponds which are a vital breeding ground for millions of birds.
The Forest is named after Boreas the Greek god of the North Wind. The Boreal begins where the woods of Oak and Maple end and continues North into the Artic World of cold winter and short cool summers. The Boreal has far less biodiversity then the tropical rain forests or temperate woods and is made up of a few key tree species Spruce, Pine, Fir, Larch and Aspen. Over half the Boreal remains untouched but that will change Oil, Gas, drilling, flooding from Hydropower dams are eating away eradicating the forest and it's wildlife.
The Russian forests are being cut to feed the Global paper appetite which chews up the trees at an alarming rate, destroying the habitat of endangered wildlife like the Siberian Tigers., eroding the traditional way of life for the indigenous people. Far-Eastern conglomerates have bought up most of Siberian forests, one Malaysian based group `Rimbunan Hijao' own over 900,000 acres alone to log. Thousands of square miles of forest have been polluted thousands of trees damaged by oil spills or killed by highway construction by these foreign conglomerates. It's been estimated that up too 40% of trees felled are left on the ground which is not only wasteful and un professional but it makes fuel for forest fires.
In Canada over two million acres of the forest are cut down each year to save the wildlife we need to see a dramatic expansion of the protected area before its too late. When I was born in the 1960's, 96 % of the Forests in Alberta province in Canada were wilderness. Sixty years later the Oil and Timber company's have stripped the province of its natural resources and less then 10% of the forest still exists in very small patch's all less then a few miles from the roads and pipe lines that criss cross the province. This has caused a huge decline in bird numbers, big mammals almost disappeared. Over the last sixty years in the swan hill region of Alberta the grizzly bear population has dropped from 400 to 30, herds of Caribou are on the verge of disappearing .All thanks to the greed of man.
Its not all doom, Russia needs to be praised, the Government of Mr Putin so often attacked in the West and by myself in previous posts, has stepped forward to try and stop the destruction by creating the kostomukshskig Nature Reserve a 117,600 acres of Pine wood and wet land. Which have been set aside to flourish, with only Scientists and Visitors with special permits allowed too enter. The Reserve since it was set up has witness Moose, Reindeer's, Otters, Bears, Eagles and Swan population flourish. In the Yakutiya Republic in Siberia, Putin has passed laws to protect 270,000 square miles of forest, which is half the size of Alaska. The Russians have also set up schemes to regenerate forests that were damaged in the chaos that followed the fall of the Soviet Union. Forests are strong if they are allowed to recover they will come back to life, Nature works on circles of death and rebirth but they need our help. while this is only a small step in stopping the attacks and protecting the Boreal ,it shows what governments can do when they put nature before greed.