#21 The New Amazon of the North: Canadian Deforestation

by Project Censored
Published: Last Updated on

Since 2000, Canada has led the world in deforestation, despite being overshadowed by reports of the forests in Brazil and Indonesia. With only 10 percent of the world’s forests, Canada now accounts for 21 percent of all deforestation in the world. Surges in oil sands and shale gas development, logging, and road expansion have been the major contributors to the destruction of Canada’s forests. According to Stephen Leahy, writing for the Inter Press Service, deforestation by Canada and other countries deposits more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than does all of the world’s transportation machinery.

Canada’s large wild forests are crucial to the survival of many animal species such as the whooping crane, black-footed ferret, and woodland caribou. The benefits of these large areas of wilderness are not limited to habitat for animals. These places also serve as reservoirs of water, producers of oxygen, absorbers of carbon dioxide, and sources of food and wood. “While forests can re-grow, this takes many decades, and in northern forests more than 100 years,” Leahy reported. “However, if species go extinct or there are too few individuals left, it will take longer for a full forest ecosystem to recover—if ever.”

Corporate media coverage of Canada’s increasing deforestation has been lacking. When the story has been covered in the Canadian press, headlines often diminish the significance of the issue. For example, the Calgary Herald reported that “Size Does Matter” (January 20, 2014); while the Vancouver Province reported “Campaign Splits Ken from Barbie” (June 8, 2011), humorously addressing issues related to the problem of deforestation in ways that divert readers from completely understanding its impact on the world. A December 11, 2014, article in the Los Angeles Times, titled “In Global Climate Talks, Some Major Polluters Drag Their Feet,” briefly describes Canada’s gas and oil industries but makes no mention of their roles in deforestation.

Stephen Leahy, “World’s Last Remaining Forest Wilderness at Risk,” Inter Press Service, September 5, 2014, http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/09/worlds-last-remaining-forest-wilderness-at-risk.

Student Researcher: Chinasa T. Okolo (Pomona College)

Faculty Evaluator: Andy Lee Roth (Pomona College)