According to data from Global Forest Watch, an online mapping platform that tracks deforestation in near-real time, industrial development and forest fires in Canada’s tar sands region has cleared or degraded 775,500 hectares (almost two million acres) of boreal forest since the year 2000. That’s an area more than six times the size of New York City. If the tar sands extraction boom continues, as many predict, we can expect forest loss to increase.
WRI works with partners to track and analyze national climate policies in Canada. Learn more about our Open Climate Network project.
For more information, please visit Global Forest Watch.
Peter Lee, Executive Director of Global Forest Watch Canada, presents on Global Forest Watch at TEDxNairobi, November 2013.
WRI’s international Global Forest Watch (GFW) network now maps ninety percent of the world’s primary forests. Companies, governments, and environmental groups worldwide use our maps and expertise to reconcile conservation and development needs. The Russian environmental group SPOK, for example, relied on WRI’s boreal maps in its negotiations with Karellesprom, a major logging company, to spare an unprotected section of one of Europe’s last remaining primary forests. The Forest Stewardship Council–a globally recognized label for sustainable forest management—is using GFW maps across Canada and Russia to ensure that certified companies take proper account of large forests. Forest companies doing business in boreal forest regions are now guided by GFW maps.
Mandatory reporting programs help build a strong foundation to manage greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and strengthen countries’ capacity to adequately tackle climate change. This working paper provides insight into the factors influencing the design and development of reporting programs and...
International climate action took an encouraging step forward today. President Obama reached agreements with the G-20 and with China to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), potent greenhouse gases used in appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners.
The government of Nova Scotia announced an ambitious plan earlier this month to protect 245,000 hectares of forest and park land, establishing the Canadian province as a conservation leader in one of the world’s most heavily forested nations. Roughly 14 percent of all land in Nova Scotia will now be legally protected from development, making it the province with the second-highest percentage of land devoted to protected areas in Canada, after British Columbia.
This news is significant for conservationists and for the vast number of Canadians who depend on these forests for clean air, water, and a bounty of other resources. It also illustrates a powerful truth: precise, science-based maps are an essential component of good forest management and planning.
An increasing number of U.S. states and Canadian provinces are enacting regulations to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. WRI has been an active contributor to this movement, providing critical technical and policy advice, and facilitating negotiations.
Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and four Canadian provinces recently agreed to collectively reduce GHG emissions by 15% of 2005 levels by 2020 and establish a cap-and-trade system. Under the plan, companies obtain permits for the emissions attributable to their operations. Cleaner, more efficient companies needing fewer permits may sell what they don’t need to those with larger emissions. This initiative is the largest effort of its kind in North America. Member states account for nearly 27% of total U.S. GHG emissions. Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, along with Manitoba, have also agreed to design an emissions reduction market.
Both efforts build off of the experiences of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a similar program among ten northeastern states targeting electric utilities that WRI helped create in 2005. Carbon trading began in September 2008.
Canada’s majestic boreal zone stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, covering 307 million hectares of forest and woodland and another 245 million hectares of natural landscape. One of the world’s most important ecosystems, it harbors biodiversity, provides livelihoods for local communities, stores large quantities of carbon, and produces paper and timber for use across the world. While much of it remains intact, industrial activity has been invading the old-growth forest.
In response, 21 forest products companies and nine leading environmental organizations, together with Canadian First Nations, signed an historic agreement in 2010 to protect a large swath of this forest and its species at risk, such as the Boreal caribou. The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement suspends new logging in 29 million hectares of forest land until 2013, and calls for the highest environmental standards of forest management within an area of 72 million hectares – twice the size of Germany. Additional forest will be added as the agreement broadens.
WRI and its Global Forest Watch network first put the issue of Canadian old-growth forest loss on the map – literally. We produced a ground-breaking set of maps documenting old-growth forest loss and areas of surviving intact forests. Global Forest Watch Canada’s maps were accepted as objective, accurate, and credible by activist groups, government officials, and companies. They supported advocacy efforts by explaining the global significance of the forests at stake. And they provided key data for the development of the Boreal Forest Agreement, part of an ongoing effort among environmental groups to fully protect 50 percent of Canada’s boreal forest from industrial development.
Bringing together independent research institutes and civil society groups from key countries around the world to monitor national progress on climate change policy.
Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, took a significant step toward promoting transparency and reducing global poverty. He announced yesterday that Canada will implement mandatory reporting requirements for Canadian extractive companies operating both in-country and abroad.
This mandate will require Canadian extractive companies to publicly disclose the payments they make to foreign governments in exchange for permission to operate on their soil. This development will help promote transparency in the mining sector and, if implemented effectively, could help combat the “resource curse.”
Fighting the Resource Curse through Access to Information
Tackling the “resource curse” is a challenge of global proportions. The term applies to situations where, despite a country’s mineral or oil wealth, poverty is exacerbated in part by weak or corrupt institutions, government mismanagement of revenues, and a failure to re-invest into projects that benefit the public—such as infrastructure, education, and healthcare. Often, citizens of resource curse countries aren’t able to hold their governments accountable for this abuse of power because they lack information about their country’s revenues and expenditures (see Box).