Encircling the entire northern hemisphere just south of the Arctic Circle, the boreal forest covers about 16.6 million square kilometres, or roughly one-third of the planet’s forested area. With close to 60 percent, Russia has the largest portion of the boreal forest. Canada’s share is approximately 30 percent, with the remainder lying in several other northern countries.
Canada’s boreal forest
Stretching from the Yukon to Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada’s boreal zone forms a band about 1,000 kilometres wide between the Arctic’s frozen tundra and the more temperate forests and grasslands to the south. The boreal zone extends over roughly 552 million hectares, 307 million of which are forest. The boreal forest accounts for about three-quarters of Canada’s forest lands and covers nearly one-third of the nation’s total area.
Approximately 61 million hectares, or 0.2 percent, of Canada’s boreal forest are harvested annually. This represents about half of the country’s total logging activity, with only one-third of one percent of Canada’s commercial forests harvested each year.
Forging new paths
In Canada’s forest industry, changing economic realities coupled with heightened public and marketplace concerns over the environment have created both issues and opportunities for forest-products companies as well as environmental organizations.
Drafted as a response to these challenges, the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) is a unique collaboration between nine leading environmental organizations and 21 major Canadian forest-products companies. These companies, all members of the Forest Products Association of Canada, hold tenures for over 72 million hectares of boreal forest on publicly owned land. Included in these tenures are more than 29 million hectares of woodland caribou rangelands.
By signing the Agreement, the signatories have committed to work together, in the marketplace and on the ground, to support governments in the realization of a stronger, more competitive forest industry and a better protected, more sustainably managed boreal forest.