Birds at Risk: The Importance of Canada’s Boreal Wetlands and Waterways.
OCTOBER 26, 2011 | | Boreal Songbird Initiative
The boreal forest of Canada is a critical stronghold of our planet’s bird life, supporting large portions of the global population of many species. Billions of birds migrate to and from the boreal region and reproduce in the short boreal summers, largely because of the region’s abundant wetlands and undammed waterways.
The prodigious number of insects hatched from the water, and creatures living in it, are staples of birds’ diets. This watery habitat provides shelter and nesting grounds as well as food for migrants. It has also, until recently, contributed to keeping industrial development in check.
But the boreal forest is under pressure from industrial development and climate change. Hydropower has flooded former habitat, while logging and industry such as tar sands oil extraction, strip-mining, and drilling operations have impacted forest habitat and decreased water quality. Climate change is melting permafrost, desiccating wetlands, and potentially creating ecological imbalances that could undermine the land’s ability to support the large percentage of the world’s bird populations that depend on the boreal forest.
This report looks at three natural areas in the boreal forest that are critical for birds, but that are coming under pressure from industry, hydropower, and climate change. We discuss some strong policy steps governments must take in order to protect the watery forest and the great biodiversity of birds it supports.