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Atlantic Canada - More Information

Background information on DU's Atlantic Canada conservation priority area
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Eastern Boreal Forest Landscape

Landscape size Atlantic region 715,446 km 2 , NF 107,120 km 2 , Quebec 608,326 km 2 , Ontario 560,000 km 2
Proportion of total land base Atlantic Region 32%, NF and Lab 29%, Quebec 36%, Ontario 57%
Wetland area Atlantic region 3,086,000 ha, NF 686,500 ha, Quebec 2,400,000 ha
DU-managed wetlands Atlantic region 6,071 ha, NF 1,071 ha, Quebec 5,000 ha, Ontario 32,239 ha
Breeding pairs of waterfowl Atlantic region 277,850, NF 32,100 ducks, 15,750 Canada geese, Quebec 230,000 ducks and geese, Ontario 450,000
Waterfowl goals 727,850 breeding pairs

The boreal forest zone encompasses 32% of the Atlantic Canada Region and more then 57% of Ontario. The boreal is basically a coniferous forest with some hardwood mix in southern latitudes. Half the boreal forest in NF is considered unproductive forest, which means it, cannot be sustainably harvested. Intensive forest harvesting is occurring close to NF pulp mills and expansion into Labrador is a real possibility. Ninety-nine percent of the forests in NF are Crown owned. Commercial forests cover 46% of Quebec and are Crown owned. In Ontario, over 90% of the land is Crown owned and 75% is considered productive commercial forest.

Wetlands are numerous, generally low in productivity, with more productive “pockets” occurring. Waterfowl are dispersed at low densities, yet the large land mass results in a significant proportions of the total Atlantic region's black duck, green-winged teal, goldeneye, scoter and Canada goose production coming from the boreal forest. Beaver populations have recovered from low levels in the 1940s and have created innumerable ponds. In Ontario, the vast size of the boreal forest results in a fall flight of more then 3.5 million waterfowl.

Forestry, hydroelectric development and acid rain have the most significant impact on this landscape. Forestry remains the primary land use. Current projections are for a wood shortfall over the next 20 – 30 years. There has been a significant increase in silviculture; however, it remains unclear if this will offset the shortfall. This shortfall will force forestry operations in areas currently considered unprofitable, thereby increasing human access. The most significant influence of forestry is likely the development of the road system allowing access to previously remote areas.

Goals

  • Maintain the existing diverse habitat quality and quantity needed to sustain current breeding waterfowl numbers.
  • Increase the availability of nesting cavities for declining goldeneye populations.

Assumptions

  • Wetland quantity is generally not limiting, but due to low naturally occurring nutrient levels, the quality is.
  • There have been significant historic declines in black duck, goldeneye and scoter populations. However, in the past 10 years, waterfowl populations including black ducks have been stable.
  • Current wetland densities are adequate to support the existing populations.
  • Removal of large snags is limiting nest sites for declining goldeneye populations.
  • Beaver pond numbers fluctuate.
  • Increased forestry practices and recreational activities will have negative impacts on habitat quality.

Strategies

  • Acquire wetland inventories and more complete waterfowl surveys to focus conservation programs.
  • Conduct research on the impacts of intensive forestry practices to help develop a better understanding of what strategies will be most applicable to achieving the goals.
  • The need for forestry companies to achieve global environmental certification represents an opportunity for DU.
  • Extensive rather than intensive conservation programs are most suitable for this landscape.
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