Ducks Unlimited Canada
National Boreal Program
17504 111th Avenue NW
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
T5S 0A2

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Water and wetlands

  • Globally, it contains the largest area of freshwater
  • Boreal wetlands play an important role in regulating global climate
  • According to the Geological Survey of Canada, the peat in Canada’s wetlands stores almost 60 per cent of all the carbon stored in soils across the country
  • It holds approximately 25 per cent of the world’s intact wetlands
  • Supplies clean water by filtering the largest surface area of freshwater on the planet
  • Boreal wetlands support biodiversity, help mitigate climate change and flooding, improve water quality, maintain water flow in periods of drought, and provide opportunities for recreational and cultural activities
  • About two-thirds of boreal vertebrates depend on wetlands throughout their lifecycle

Wildlife and waterfowl

  • Is rich in biodiversity, with 85 species of mammals, 130 species of fish, and 300 species of birds
  • Hundreds of species such as moose, caribou, elk, grizzly bears, lynx and wolves call the boreal home
  • Sustains 23 different species of ducks and contributes to all 4 continental flyways
  • Approximately 35 species of ducks, geese and swans use the Canadian boreal
  • Provides important breeding and nesting habitat for 1-3 billion migratory birds
  • One-third of the 44 million ducks breeding in North America breed in the boreal
  • The boreal forest, along with the U.S. and Canadian prairies, represents the majority of North America’s waterfowl breeding areas
  • Many boreal species are considered a conservation concern including caribou, boreal chorus frogs, and various birds
  • Fourty percent of priority bird species associated with wetlands in the boreal forest appear to be declining
  • Nine species are officially listed as species at risk in Canada: five terrestrial birds and four waterbirds

Culture and community

  • More than 70 per cent of Canada’s Indigenous communities live within its 1.3 billion acre expanse
  • It provides food, medicine, recreation, shelter and employment for more than 600 of Canada’s Indigenous communities
  • Crosses 10 provinces and territories

Ecosystem services

Economists and ecologists have demonstrated that ecosystem services have economic value. Their calculations include market value, such as hydro-electricity, timber and oil and gas. They include non-market value, such as carbon sequestration, water regulation and pest control.

  • Stores more carbon than any other ecozone on Earth – 3 times more than tropical forests
  • Buffers extreme weather, holding back water in floods and storing it in droughts
  • The boreal consists of different types of forest mixed with a variety of wetlands
  • Producing food, freshwater, wood and peat resources for fuel
  • Regulating climate, water quality, and quantity to reduce the economic consequences of floods and droughts
  • Providing cultural value for Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities through educational, recreational and spiritual opportunities
  • Supporting wetland ecosystems through soil and nutrient cycling, creating a broad range of habitats for species, plants and animals
  • The Canadian Boreal Initiative estimates:
    • $50.9 billion* of market value services are extracted from the boreal forest annually. The non-market value is an estimated $703 billion, nearly 14 times greater.
    • Carbon storage by forests and wetlands has the highest value of all ecosystem services at $582 billion, followed by flood control and water filtering by peatlands at $77 billion and other wetlands at $33.7 billion. DUC researchers are developing methods to apply the value of ecosystem services in conservation, policy and land use planning.

*2002 value