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Progress and Peril in the Boreal Forest

Millions of acres have recently received protection in this region, but grave threats remain for wetlands and waterfowl.
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Based on averages of waterfowl breeding population estimates from 1960-2005, roughly 13-15 million ducks (including both paired and unpaired birds) use the western boreal forest of Canada and Alaska in spring. Five species of waterfowl had 79 percent or more of their surveyed populations in the western boreal forest, five had 55-75 percent, and three had 36-41 percent. From a numbers perspective, these averages include 3.4 million scaup, 2.1 million mallards, 1.4 million American wigeon, 1 million green-winged teal, 1 million scoters, 650,000 pintails, and 650,000 ring-necked ducks. More than 90 percent of the world's black ducks breed in the eastern boreal forest.

Until recently, conserving Canada's boreal forest was viewed as unnecessary relative to other priorities, largely because of the region's vast size and remote location. This perception changed because of agricultural expansion at the southern boundary, petroleum exploration and development, forestry, hydroelectric development, and mining expanded throughout the boreal forest. By 1999, a consortium of aboriginal, federal, provincial, and territorial governments; nongovernmental conservation organizations; and visionary industries began working toward the common goal of conserving a substantial portion of Canada's boreal region. Taking a leadership role in this effort, The Pew Charitable Trusts created a partnership ultimately known as the International Boreal Conservation Campaign (IBCC), of which Ducks Unlimited is a central partner. The Pew Charitable Trusts was able to secure significant partnership support from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Lenfest Foundation Inc., Gordon E. and Betty I. Moore Foundation, and Campion Foundation. In addition, a Boreal Framework was developed by the Canadian Boreal Initiative and IBCC that called for the permanent protection of 50 percent of Canada's boreal forest and the conservation of the entire region through leading industrial practices. This framework has garnered support from over 120 indigenous bands and nations and two provincial governments.

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