Today a letter signed by over 500 scientists from 30 countries was delivered to the Quebec government. The letter reiterated the scientific principles behind the government’s original promise to protect half of its northern Boreal Forest, a pledge that was announced last fall. At that time Quebec Premier Jean Charest promised that half of the Boreal Forest north of the 49th parallel would be permanently protected from development, and that any development occurring in the remaining half would be done so sustainably. If successfully implemented, it would be one of the world’s largest land conservation actions, and Quebec would lead the world as a benchmark for responsible and sustainable development.
But since that time there has been little progress toward implementing the Premier’s commitment into law or through meaningful policy or planning activities. On the other hand, the Premier has announced support of new energy development in the north – a move that worries some environmental groups. Conservation decisions need to be made ahead of industrial development in order to protect the globally significant natural resources of Quebec’s Boreal. For these reasons the scientists felt the need remind Quebec’s government of the fundamental scientific principles behind last year’s pledge.
Read the letter here:
Read the joint CBI/Ducks Unlimited press release here:
There are high stakes in Quebec’s Boreal Forest, which comprises more than 450,000 square miles – an area larger than 200 of the world’s 223 countries. The amount of carbon stored in Quebec’s Boreal is equally impressive: 31 billion tons of carbon stored in its trees, peat and soil – equivalent to 158 years worth of Canada’s annual carbon emissions. This carbon is easily released into the atmosphere when development like logging, mining, and other resource extraction industries disturb the natural landscape.
The region is also rich in wildlife. More than 25% of Canada’s Woodland Caribou, a federally threatened species, roam the vast stretches of pristine forest in Quebec. It’s also the breeding grounds for 300-500 million birds of 180 species, including threatened species like the Harlequin Duck, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Canada Warbler, and Olive-sided Flycatcher. In winter, most of these birds become the familiar backyard birds of people in the U.S., Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean.
To say Quebec’s Boreal is ecologically important would be an understatement. This is exactly why Premier Charest’s commitment and a successful implementation plan are so important to the world, including the 500-plus scientists who signed the letter even from far away places like India, Poland, Argentina and France. Quebec could be the world’s leader in land conservation and sustainable development and show the way for other Canadian provinces and other countries. Premier Charest could be the world’s Teddy Rooseveltâ€”a historic leader in the world history of land conservation.
Premier Charest and Quebec, the world stands ready to applaud and support you.
Can you show us the next steps forward?