March 22, 2006

Survey of Canadian forests raises protection calls

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Environmentalists
say a new survey of logging and other development in Canada's
forests, released on Wednesday, shows the need for greater
conservation and protection.

The study found that about 70 percent of Canada's forests
have not been "fragmented" by logging or other human
intrusions, but most of the undisturbed landscape is in the far
northern boreal and taiga forests.

"It's kind a dual threat and opportunity message," said
Peter Lee, executive director of Global Forest Watch Canada and
one of the survey's authors.

Lee said the threat is in the south, where not enough has
been done to protect the biodiverse forests. "Yet we have this
global opportunity (in the north) to do things right if we
choose to," he said.

Lee and two other researchers spent more than two years
studying satellite images and using on-site surveys to create
the first consistent, country-wide survey of industrial
development of Canada's forests.

"Which is no small feat given the size of Canada's
forests," Lee said with a laugh.

Nearly all of the untouched forest is in Quebec, the
Northwest Territories, Ontario and British Columbia, with none
left in the Atlantic provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick
and Prince Edward Island.

Lee said the survey should help government identify areas
needing conservation protection, and could even aid timber
firms needing to set aside land for protection to gain
environmental certification for their products.

The Canadian Boreal Initiative, which includes both
industrial and environmental groups, said the survey shows the
needed to provide more protection for that northern forest that
runs from Alaska to the Atlantic coast.

Canada's boreal forest represents about 25 percent of the
world's remaining intact forests, but only 10 percent of it is
protected from industrial development.