Pew Environmental Study Finds Boreal Forest is ‘Earth’s Water Keeper.’

A map showing the boreal forest stretching from coast to coast across Canada

A U.S.-based conservation group has concluded that the great ribbon of green that stretches across northern Canada is one of the world’s great storehouses of fresh water and influences the environment of the entire planet.


Pew Environment Group researchers, whose study is one of the first attempts to bring together all data on the boreal forest, say even they were amazed at what they found.

“Until we started putting all these pieces of the puzzle together, we didn’t even see the whole picture ourselves as far as water goes,” said spokesman Steve Kallick. “This analysis has been revelatory to us.”

The report concludes more must be done to control resource development, protect wetlands and implement conservation agreements already in place.

“There hasn’t been a policy focus on Canada’s waters, which is kind of a shame,” said Kallick.

The report titled Forest of Blue brings together findings from dozens of published scientific surveys and concludes the boreal forest is “the world’s water keeper.” The Pew analysis calls it the most water-rich region on Earth at a time when countries have ever-growing demands for fresh water.

It has 800,000 square kilometres of surface water and half of the world’s lakes larger than a square kilometre. It holds five of the world’s 50 largest rivers and boasts, in Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories, what’s believed to be the world’s largest remaining unpolluted lake. Fully one-quarter of the globe’s wetlands are in the boreal forest.

All that water has consequences for the entire planet.

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