By Kevin Smith and Fritz Reid, Ph.D.
An expanded partnership between Ducks Unlimited Inc., Ducks Unlimited Canada
, and The Pew Charitable Trusts is working to conserve an unprecedented 1 billion acres of wetlands and associated upland habitat in North America's Boreal Forest
. This partnership is built on 13 years of close collaboration between Canadian First Nations, progressive industries, governments, Pew, DU, and other groups. Working together, we can help ensure that millions of waterfowl raised each year in the Boreal continue to fill the skies across this continent for generations to come.
A Global Treasure
North America's Boreal region spans 1.6 billion acres from the mouth of the Yukon River in Alaska
to the granite cliffs of Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland. Its extensive wetlands, forest, and associated habitats annually produce an estimated 5 billion waterfowl, songbirds, shorebirds, and other species, the majority of which are migratory. In addition, the Boreal's myriad lakes, rivers, ponds, fens, bogs, swamps, and streams contain nearly 25 percent of the earth's fresh water, and Boreal habitats also capture and store nearly 40 percent of the world's carbon.
A Haven for Waterfowl
As our understanding of waterfowl abundance and distribution in the Boreal has grown, so has our understanding of the region's importance to waterfowl and other wildlife. Although waterfowl densities are lower here than on the prairies, the Boreal's extensive wetlands and associated upland habitats annually support from 12 to 17 million—or up to 40 percent—of North America's surveyed breeding ducks. More than half of several species
—including green-winged teal, American wigeon, black ducks, scaup, ring-necked ducks, buffleheads, goldeneyes, scoters, and mergansers—breed here, while 25 to 50 percent of this continent's mallards, northern pintails, and white-fronted geese rely on Boreal wetlands for breeding habitat. Moreover, millions of additional waterfowl find refuge on Boreal wetlands during migration
and the molting period.