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Hearst ON sees seminal Canadian conservation project

Canada boreal forest

The Nature Conservancy of Canada, federal and provincial government, and private industry have announced the seminal Boreal Forest Project in response to climate change and the growing loss of animal species biodiversity. The NCC is planning to protect nearly 1500 km of boreal forest near Hearst in Northern Ontario. It is considered the largest private conservation project in Canada.

The boreal forest, which consists of jack pine, white and black spruce, and tamarack, makes up nearly 60 percent of Canada’s landmass, and extends from the southern deciduous forest up to the tree line.

The Boreal Forest Project focuses on lands occupied by the threatened Woodland Caribou, the Canada Warbler, and the Olive-sided Flycatcher bird. Moose, lynx, beavers, black bears, and wolves in the area will also benefit from the area’s protected status.

The Hearst area is home to rivers, streams, bog, swamp, and muskeg, and Northern Ontario has about 10 percent of the world’s stored carbon alone. The Hearst/Cochrane area is a large carbon sink, according to Krystyn Ferguson, a program director at the Nature Conservancy of Canada, due to the ability of its peatlands to absorb carbon, which allows it to counterbalance climate change.

The NCC is currently working on a property management plan, and is in negotiations with Indigenous peoples, and the Town of Hearst. A joint monitoring project for the threatened woodland caribou is already underway, and eco-tourism opportunities are being examined. Ferguson is hoping the project will be completed by the end of the summer.

Domtar, the pulp and paper company, is contributing land at a discount that will become part of the protected reserve. While the federal government is contributing $17 million, Ontario has earmarked $2.2 million for the project, which will total $46 million.

Domtar developed the forested area for logging but has not used it for over ten years, and thinks it is now a good option for conservationists. “This large tract of Canadian boreal forestland is recognized for its ecosystems, and abundant wildlife, and studies will be conducted to share results with the public,” Rob Melton, a Senior VP At Domtar, says.

There is still $13 million to be raised for the restoration of the area.

Sources

Big, bold and boreal. (2022, April 22). Nature Conservancy of Canada. https://www.natureconservancy.ca/en/where-we-work/ontario/news/big-bold-and-boreal.html

Boreal forest of Canada. (2022, April 7). Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boreal_forest_of_Canada

Plans underway for Boreal Wildlands Project, called the largest private conservation agreement in Canada. (2022, April 22).  CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/boreal-wildlands-project-1.6427505

National conservation group launches largest single private project in northern Ontario. (2022, April 22). CTV News. https://northernontario.ctvnews.ca/national-conservation-group-launches-largest-single-private-project-in-northern-ontario-1.5872865

Environment ministers help launch massive boreal protection project. (2022, April 22). Observer Media Group. https://www.nationalobserver.com/comment/68354

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