Why Alberta’s newly protected boreal forest really matters

Wood-buffalo-national-park Photo by Dancestrokes/Shutterstock

Alberta just got a little greener. The province reputed for its deposits of crude oil announced on Tuesday, May 15 that five new wildland provincial parks will be created in northeast Alberta. The parks will span an area of 67,735 square kilometres—slightly larger than Nova Scotia. Contained within these parks will be the largest protected boreal forest in the world. We got in touch with Tara Russell, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s Northern Alberta program director, to find out how the newly protected forest will benefit you and the rest of Canada.

It’s the largest in the world

Us Canadians take pride in our humility, but every once in a while it’s acceptable to throw our caps into the air and chant, “We’re number one!” Alberta’s protected boreal forest is officially the largest in the world, so take pride, Canada.

Reaching goals

We’re inching ever closer to Canada’s pathway to target one goal. Canada, along with 150 other countries, committed to protecting 17 per cent of the country’s land and freshwater under the Convention on Biological Diversity. According to Russell, we’re currently at 14.5 per cent—only a little more to go.

Save the woodland caribou

The new parks, Russell says, will protect areas in four woodland caribou ranges, a species listed by the federal government as endangered.

Taste that fresh air

Not only do the broad trunks and intricate leaves of Alberta’s boreal forest accentuate Canada’s beautiful landscape, they also help keep it clean. The trees store carbon, purifying the air and water, while helping to regulate the climate. Russell says the Albertan government, Syncrude, and the Tallcree First Nation have all agreed to cease extracting resources from the area in order to allow it to grow naturally.

Protectors of this land

Along with its announcement of the new parks, the Albertan government also stated they want to include an Indigenous co-management process and Indigenous Guardian program. This would entail Indigenous people having a say in how the land is used, as well as being hired on to monitor areas, maintain land, and provide education and outreach to park visitors.


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