On May 12, 2009, 60,000 citizens from Canada, the United States, and around the globe sent a strong message to Canadian federal and provincial leaders. The petition, sponsored by 20 bird and environmental organizations in two continents, warns Canadian officials of the drastic decreases many Boreal-breeding birds have faced in recent decades, and calls for policies that provide adequate protection for these threatened beauties.
Canada's Boreal Forest, often referred to as the "Bird Nursery of the North", is one of the last remaining intact forests in the entire globe. More than 300 bird species breed in the Boreal Forest, and up to 5 billion migratory birds fly south from the Boreal every fall. Adding to the importance of the forest, the Boreal stores the equivalent of 27 years' worth of the world's carbon emissions in 2003 from the burning of fossil fuels.
But the birds and carbon that call the Canadian Boreal Forest home have become increasingly threatened. Over 30% has been allocated to logging, mining, and other energy development, whereas only 12% of the forest has been protected. Habitat loss and fragmentation is one of the leading reducers of birds worldwide, and industrial disturbance releases dangerous carbon from the trees, soil, and peat where it is stored.
Boreal Birds By the Numbers
- North America’s Boreal Forest represents 25% of the world’s remaining intact forest.
- Over 300 species breed in Canada’s Boreal Forest.
- Of these, forty land birds and several duck species are facing declines. Habitat loss is one likely cause.
- Eighty per cent of North American waterfowl species, 63% of finches, and 53% of warblers breed in Canada’s Boreal Forest.
- For at least 96 species, over half of their entire breeding population occurs in the Boreal Forest region.
- Many Boreal bird species have registered serious declines in recent years. Rusty Blackbirds have declined by 90%, Boreal Chickadees and Evening Grosbeaks by more than 70%, Olive-sided Flycatchers, Bay-breasted and Canada Warblers by over 50% as have the boreal-breeding ducks Surf Scoters and Scaup.
- Boreal birds are serious economic drivers. Boreal birds conduct over 5 billion dollars worth of ecological services by pollinating plants and controlling insect pests.
- Sixty million people spend time in North America watching migratory birds and 3.2 million people hunt ducks and geese every year spending tens of billions of dollars annually on travel, lodging and gear.
Event Summary and Media Coverage
The Save our Boreal Birds Petition was a huge success both in terms of media coverage and in terms of getting our voices heard by political insiders. Premier McGuinty of Ontario said he was "very impressed" by the number of signatures upon seeing the printed list of names, and the petition was formally read by MP Linda Duncan of Alberta in front of the Parliament of Canada, assuring us that our message was sent (there is a YouTube video below the articles and radio links showing MP Duncan read the petition). Here are some of the highlights:
Radio Interviews for Download >
Video of MP Linda Duncan Presenting Petition >
Bridget Stutchbury (Left) and Caroline Schultz of Ontario Nature (Right) discuss the petition and Boreal birds:
Caroline Schultz of Ontario Nature gives the petitions to David Harvey, Ontario Premier McGuinty's Policy Advisor:
"Save the Birds? Save Their Habitat," Globe and Mail (op-ed)
"Songbird Decline Shows Need to Protect Boreal Forest, Environmentalists Say," CBC News
"Thousands Petition to Protect Boreal Forest," Metro Ottawa
"More Protection Urged for Forest," Victoria Times Colonist
"Petition Aims to Protect Boreal Forest," Saskatoon Star-Phoenix
"Au secours de la forêt boréale," Le Soleil
"À la rescousse des oiseaux de la forêt boréale," Québec Hebdo
Radio Interviews for Download (Rick-click to save .mp3)
Radio Canada International: Campaign to Save the Boreal Forests and Migrating Birds Launched
Radio Canada: Pétition pour la sauvegarde de la forêt boréale
Video of MP Linda Duncan Presenting Petition
This factsheet, "Boreal Bird Declines and Human Disturbances", highlights six Boreal-breeding birds who have faced considerable decline in recent years. The percentage of habitat protected versus disturbed for each bird are contrasted, including a map of industrial disturbance overlaying each birds' typical range.
Boreal Songbird Initiative
View Factsheet (PDF) >
View Full Size Maps >
Dr. Bridget Stutchbury and Caroline Schultz, Ontario Nature
To set up an interview, please contact Victoria Foote at Ontario Nature:
Phone: 416-444-8419 ext. 238; 647-290-9384 (cell)
Charles-Antoine Drolet and Christian Simard, Nature Québec
To set up an interview, please contact Mylène Bergeron at Nature Québec:
Phone: (418) 648–2104 ext. 2074; (418) 931-1131 (cell)
Dr. Jeff Wells, Boreal Songbird Initiative and Ted Cheskey, Nature Canada
To set up an interview, please contact Chris Sutton at Nature Canada:
Phone: 613 562-3447 ext. 248; 613 668-2279 (cell)
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For More Background Information and Media Resources:
Supporting Articles and Research >
Images and Maps >
Audio and B-roll for Download >
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