The New Amazon of the North: How Canada Became the World Leader in Deforestation

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

In September 2014, the Intact Forest Landscapes initiative, made up of organizations such as Greenpeace and the World Resources Institute, reported that since 2001 Canada has led the world in deforestation, despite being overshadowed by reports of the forests in Brazil and Indonesia. With only ten percent of the world’s forests, Canada now accounts for 21% of all deforestation in the world. Surges in oil/tar sands, 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, Canada and other countries’ deforestation deposits more CO2 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, filters of air, 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 reports. “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 is 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.

Sources: 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)