North America's boreal forest has emerged as one of the most important opportunities for conservation in the world. In particular, the wetland- and waterfowl-rich western boreal forest faces increasing and cumulative effects from human use and climate change. The DU family is working with aboriginal groups, governments, industry, academic institutions, foundations and conservation organizations to help develop and implement ecosystem-based sustainable development, world-leading best management practices, and an extensive network of large, wetland-rich protected areas. (Ducks Unlimited Canada Conservator magazine – summer 2004, Duncan Morrison)
Ducks Unlimited's Western Regional Office completed over 28 million acres of boreal landcover mapping in 2004 to support conservation and planning efforts. DU has mapped over 260 million acres of the Western Boreal Forest and Arctic Coastal Plain in the past 15 years, and is currently working on an additional 37 million acres. The boreal region annually hosts tens of millions of waterfowl during the breeding season and as much as 70% of all continental waterfowl during migration or molt. This is the primary breeding area of several species such as green-winged teal, American wigeon, Barrow's goldeneye, as well as waterfowl species facing population declines, including lesser scaup and white-winged scoter. Funding for DU's boreal conservation efforts was bolstered by an unprecedented $12 million grant – the largest ever single foundation grant to DU – from the Pew Charitable Trusts.