Protect North America’s Boreal Forest

  • by: Boreal Songbird Initiative
  • recipient: The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada; The Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development; The Honourable John Baird, Minister of the Environment

The Boreal Forest of North America is the summer breeding ground for over 300 species of birds we see regularly in urban Canada and the U.S., including sparrows, warblers, woodpeckers, and the endangered Whooping Crane. Now, these birds and our environment are under threat.

International oil companies are on a fast track to construct oil and gas pipelines through the Boreal Forest – the last unspoiled forest on Earth.

These pipelines will fuel the Alberta Tar Sands, the dirtiest oil extraction process on Earth, which produces 3 times as much greenhouse gas as conventional oil production, accelerating global warming.

We need to ensure that critical habitat is protected before these pipelines are built, or our birds and our environment will suffer greatly. We also need to put the brakes on Tar Sands pollution!

Runaway energy development will destroy forest habitat for millions of migratory birds and release vast amounts of stored carbon into the atmosphere. We are at risk of losing this pristine wilderness forever.

Canadian officials have proposals in front of them right now to protect the Boreal Forest.

Send a letter today urging them to protect the Boreal and put a moratorium on Tar Sands expansion before any pipeline is built!

Prime Minister Harper,

I am writing to urge you to move forward on the commitment your government has made to protect wilderness in the Boreal Forest.

The Boreal Forest is the summer breeding ground for over 300 species of our most treasured birds, including the rapidly declining Lesser Yellowlegs and Olive-sided Flycatcher and the endangered Whooping Crane. This fragile area is also home to some of the world’s largest populations of caribou, wolves, and bear.

I am deeply concerned about the future of the area. The accelerating pace of energy development – including the Mackenzie Gas Project and Alberta Tar Sands – is threatening critical habitat and endangered species. The only way we can prevent irreversible damage to the Boreal is to establish community-supported protected areas in advance of pipeline development, and to place a moratorium on further Tar Sands projects until environmental issues have been addressed.

Your government has a number of proposals to establish new National Parks and other protected areas in the Northwest Territories. These proposals are widely supported by Aboriginal peoples, local communities, and conservation groups throughout North America. As a first step toward protection of the Boreal Forest, we would like to see action to advance the Northwest Territories Protected Area Strategy and specifically, to ensure immediate protection for the following sites:

1. Nahanni National Park
2. Sayhoue/Edacho National Historical Site
3. Edehzhie (Horn Plateau) National Wildlife Area
4. Thaydene Nene (East Arm, Great Slave Lake) National Park
5. Ts'ude'hliline – Tuyetah (Ramparts) National Wildlife Area

There are other serious consequences that our environment could face if the area is disrupted, including expansion of the highly polluting Alberta Tar Sands. It is vital that Alberta Tar Sands development does not pollute our air, water, or land, and that carbon emissions are reduced.

I urge you to place a moratorium on expansion of the Tar Sands until environmental concerns and global warming are addressed.

For the sake of our wildlife and of our environment, I hope we can count on you to honor your government’s promises to protect the Boreal Forest.

[Your name]
[Your address]

cc: Environment Minister Baird
cc: Northern Territories Minister Prentice
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