Massive Agreement Aims to Save Canada’s Boreal Forests

A huge forest-protection initiative will get off the ground in Canada today, aiming to put half of the nation’s northern boreal forests — some 650 million acres — off-limits to logging and development, and to ensure that activity in the other half is carefully controlled and eco-friendly. A coalition of energy and timber companies, native communities, and environmental groups today will announce their commitment to protect the boreal forest, and their intention to persuade others to join their effort, including the provincial and federal governments. This is being billed as the largest conservation agreement in the world: Canada’s boreal forest stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to Alaska, covering about half of the nation’s landmass and providing habitat for more than a billion birds and large populations of caribou, bears, wolves, and other wildlife. The scale of the deal is overwhelming even to participants. “I’m scared,” said Bill Hunter, president of Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc., a big pulp mill and key player in the agreement. “But if this works, man, oh, man, what a model it will be for the world.”