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Canadian Boreal Forests Emerge As Viable Carbon Sink

canada borealIn northern Canada, an area twice the size of California stores the equivalent of 27 years worth of global greenhouse gas emissions. Now, Canadian provinces and other groups are taking steps to preserve the expansive boreal forest.

Some groups are planning to sell carbon offsets in exchange for protecting the forests. Others just want to see them preserved at any cost. Indeed, Greenpeace spent years pressuring Kimberly-Clark to cease chopping down old-growth boreal forests. When the paper goods giant agreed to use 40 percent recycled content earlier this year, it was deemed a victory for Canada’s boreal forests.

Canada’s boreal forests, which are made up of a mix of trees, wetlands, peat and tundra, soak up as much as 22 percent of all carbon stored on the Earth’s land surface, according to the International Boreal Conservation Campaign.

Now, Canadian provincial governments and aboriginal leaders are leading a conservation drive to ban logging, mining and oil drilling on about 250 million acres of Canadian boreal forest, reports the GuardianUK.

In Manitoba, a $10 million fund has been set up to protect about 10.8 million acres of forest.

Observers note that, even with conservation efforts, the boreal forests may one day become a virtual carbon time bomb. If climate change causes warmer, drier weather, the boreal forest swamps may dry up, exposing tons and tons of peat that would release carbon. Additionally, warmer weather would bring insect pressure and disease, potentially causing deforestation and the release of even more carbon.

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