The Canadian Boreal Forest is the world’s largest intact woodland and has been the source of constant discussions, negotiations and protests. In fact, the country’s northern forest has over 3 million squared kilometers of untouched woodland – meaning no cities, roads, industrial development or any form of general civilization – the largest one in the world, larger even than the Amazon’s virgin forest territory, and one of the last ones remaining on the planet. It is also a representation of one of Canada’s most treasured, special characteristics: pristine landscapes that attract tourism year after year and keep us feeling connected to Mother Earth. However, keeping corporations away is an extremely difficult task, and the fight continues.
Greenpeace has taken on the giant multinational Kimberly-Clark (makers of Kleenex, Huggies and Kotex, amongst others) and its main affiliate in Quebec, Abitibi-Bowater, to keep them from continuing the damaging and almost irreversible clear-cutting that they have been practicing mostly in northern Quebec and Ontario. They lobby the government, of course, but this is not the best road to take to ensure that this natural area is kept as untouched by humans as possible.
The reason to keep this forest untouched is, of course, far more than just to preserve the actual trees. An entire ecosystem exists here, from lakes and rivers, to animals of all kinds, as well as a very large variety of plant life. Although the government has taken action to protect some areas, this is not sufficient to preserve that vast array of wildlife that desperately needs to be kept safe. This forest is home to a plethora of species on the endangered list or on the verge of being added to it. Amongst them is the Rangifer tarandus caribou, aka woodland caribou, a forest-dwelling ecotype. This gorgeous race of caribou has been added to the endangered list in 2005.
Although agriculture is very often the main reason for this sort of degradation, in this case, the land is not actually needed – they want the wood to make paper products such as mass mail out flyers, toilet paper and diapers, meaning that quite a large quantity of this wood is thrown away, never to be used again. Sure, the flyers can be recycled, but not everyone does, and a box of Kleenex takes 90 years to grow. Keep this in mind next time you reach for a tissue.
For those seeking a real, quick solution that actually works far better than lobbying against the government and large corporations, the Fondation Cowboys Fringants, created by one of Quebec’s most popular alternative music bands, purchases land with the purpose of preserving it as is. They aim for pieces of land that have the highest wildlife density possible as well as seeking territories that are home to endangered species. For every single concert ticket and album sold, they donate 1$ to their foundation in order to save for the purchases of these pieces of land. They also have a portion of these proceeds that are dedicated to replanting trees in areas that have been clear-cut and to reduce their carbon emissions while on tour.
For more information, and to donate, please click here. You would be helping save some of the most precious areas of natural biodiversity of the planet.
To hear their song that has been written about this heartless destruction, click here. Sorry, I wasn’t able to find a version with English subtitles, but I’m sure you can still appreciate the catchy beat they use, and the images speak for themselves. The main line is “Et le gars d’la compagnie rit dans sa barbe; c’est qui le con qui a dit que l’argent ne poussait pas dans les arbres ?” which means that the owner of the company is laughing now because the idiots who say money doesn’t grow on trees are wrong.
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Image credit: Tobias Akerboom (at hutmeelz)