Wetlands make up more than 50 percent of the surface area of Alaska. The interior of Alaska is hydrologically driven by riverine systems and dominated by boreal forest. Most shallow lakes and wetlands in the boreal forest were formed by river processes. These systems contain vast areas suitable for emergent or submergent vegetation, supporting a diversity of waterfowl species in the western boreal forests of Alaska that rival that of the Prairie Pothole Region.
Importance to waterfowl
- High quality waterfowl habitat within Alaska produces a fall flight that exceeds 4.6 million ducks and 100,000 geese.
- Densities of scaup, northern pintail and American wigeon dominate duck breeding pairs.
- Green-winged teal, mallard and northern shoveler are present in significant numbers.
- Canvasback, goldeneye, bufflehead, ring-necked duck and scoters are also present throughout the region.
- Challenges to the western boreal forest of Alaska come from projected development, especially hydropower projects.
- Mineral extraction has altered wetlands and salmon streams.
- Increasing human growth and tourism will demand increased road access to Alaska's interior.
DU's conservation focus
- DU has worked with key agency partners to map landcover across interior Alaska and is relating this to waterbird distribution.
- Expand understanding of wetland and waterbird ecology in the boreal forest.
- Expand partnership efforts with major agencies, Native Alaskans and resource-minded industries.
- Identify major wetland complexes important to waterbirds.
- Conduct basic ecological investigations to improve understanding of waterfowl use in boreal habitats of Alaska.
States included in the Western Boreal Forest – Alaska