What the Boreal Forest Does for Us

Did you know that Ontario's boreal forests:

  • are the breeding grounds for 250 million birds
  • trap and store carbon, helping to protect against global warming
  • are home to more than two dozen First Nations communities
  • support large, intact ecosystems that provide habitat for 23 species at risk
  • contain wetlands that store and filter millions of litres of freshwater

What sort of machine would it take to filter billions of litres of water, produce soils and restore nutrients, store carbon, produce oxygen, control flooding and erosion, support hundreds of different species (including people), and cost us nothing to run? The boreal forest handles these "jobs" or ecosystem services every day. These vast forests have a huge impact on our lives.

A critical – and increasingly important – role of the boreal forest is controlling global climate change. The boreal forest is a critical brake on warming trends and may be matched only by the world's oceans in its ability to absorb and store carbon from carbon dioxide, one of the major contributors to climate change.

The extensive wetlands of the boreal region act like a giant system of sponges, absorbing and filtering water and releasing it slowly into the surrounding landscape. This results in protection from flooding, cleaner water and higher water tables.

The broad green mantle of boreal forest lying across the top of Canada also plays a key role in moderating our temperatures and increasing atmospheric moisture throughout the year. Without boreal forests, Ontario would be hotter and drier, affecting everything from food production to water supplies.

Find out more about Ontario Nature's work to conserve the boreal forest.

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