Conservation Value of the North American Boreal Forest from an Ethnobotanical Perspective

February 1, 2010

The Boreal region in North America covers a vast area (almost six million km2) composed of a patchwork of unique habitats. The traditional territory of many indigenous people is within the Boreal region; there are hundreds of Aboriginal communities in the Canadian Boreal. Indigenous connections to the Boreal landscape go far beyond utilitarian purposes. Not only have indigenous people obtained all the resources necessary for survival from this environment, they have also developed a sacred cultural connection to the Boreal.

Specifically, the Boreal has significant ethnobotanical (relationship between people and plants) importance to indigenous people from this region. This ethnobotanical importance along with the collective traditional knowledge that is unique to and intrinsically tied to this region and the rich variety of plants from which this knowledge stems, lend tremendous weight to the significant conservation value of the Boreal region.

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Media Contacts for Interviews

To arrange an interview with Nancy Turner, or for more information, please contact:
Suzanne Fraser, Director of Communications
Canadian Boreal Initiative

To arrange an interview with David Suzuki, please contact:
Ian Hanington, Communications specialist
David Suzuki Foundation
604-732-4228 X 238

Faisal Moola, Director, Terrestrial Conservation and Science Program
David Suzuki Foundation

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Map of aboriginal peoples of North America's Boreal region:


Map of world's last great intact forests:


Largest in red, followed by yellow and green, representing forests undisturbed to date by humans


Map of human-related disturbances within Canada's Boreal forest:


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Cree children picking wild blueberries:

Credit: Natasha Moine


Traditional Dene drum dance - drum frames made of birch bark:

Credit: Garth Lenz


Cree elder prepping roots:

Credit: Natasha Moine


Cree men carving canoe paddles:

Credit: Natasha Moine


Oscar Lake in the Northwest Territories:

Credit: D. Langhorst, Ducks Unlimited


Part of the newly-expanded Nahanni National Park, Northwest Territories:

Credit: Steve Kallick, International Boreal Conservation Campaign


Triangle Lake, part of northern Ontario's Boreal Forest:

Credit: Jeff Wells, Boreal Songbird Initiative

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