Celebrating Canada's "Forest of Blue"

February 2, 2017 | Dr. Jeff Wells

It’s World Wetlands Day today, Feb. 2nd, 2017.

And could there be a more fitting place to remember during this celebration than the most wetland-rich nation and biome on the planet?

Canada, and especially its Boreal Forest region, leads the world in wetlands and water. Canada’s Boreal Forest region has more lakes, and consequently more surface freshwater, than any other country in the world. It has a quarter of the world’s wetlands including some of the largest. It has many of the largest lakes on Earth and the longest undammed rivers in North America. Canada could be said to be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world when it comes to wetlands!

These wetlands and aquatic systems are vital to the health and welfare of the entire planet. Canada’s  vibrant boreal wetlands store vast amounts of carbon—equivalent to more than 700 years’ worth of Canada’s industrial greenhouse gas emissions—and provide food and nursing grounds for countless animals and billions of birds. They clean water, provide a cushion to lessen flooding, and are a buffer during drought conditions. Canada’s boreal wetlands and waterways provide nutrients that drive marine productivity and fisheries from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The northward flowing rivers of Canada’s boreal region provide the crucial freshwater flows that drive global ocean circulation currents upon which the world’s climate is dependent.

As we mark World Wetlands Day on February 2nd, Canada is poised to lead the world in conserving its vast wetlands—and the communities, animals, birds and stable climate that depend upon them.  Canada is striving to meet numerous international targets related to climate change and biodiversity. Conserving wetlands helps address both issues.

As Canada looks for ways to meet its international commitments, it’s important not to miss the obvious.  Wetlands are a powerful ally in the fight against climate change and provide refuge for some of Canada’s most beloved species.

Just as important, Canada’s Boreal is the least fragmented of all large forest regions on the planet. Nearly two-third of the world’s wetlands have been lost since 1900, demonstrating Canada’s unique, world-leading opportunity to conserve its wetlands before they too are lost and damaged.

We at BSI have put together some more background about Canada’s Boreal wetlands including a showcase of six incredible wetland-rich landscapes that have been protected or deserve protection. To find out more, visit: http://www.borealbirds.org/announcements/wetland-wonders

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