Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tree Hugging The Boreal Forest

Athena's Owl silently swept from the top of the pine tree overhead the other night, after departing my Monday meeting of powerful Miracle Women.  Owl had many messages to give me and this blog is about some of them.

Where and what is the Boreal Forest?

The Boreal Forest is immense, spanning the globe 6.5 million square miles across northern regions of Russia, Scandinavia, Canada and Alaska.
In North America, the Boreal stretches 1.5 billion acres from interior Alaska across Canada to the Atlantic Ocean. It is large enough to hold 14 Californias, and it accounts for 25% of the world’s remaining intact forests. In fact, there is more intact forest in the Canadian Boreal than in the Brazilian Amazon.  
And it is being cut down.

Ten year old Ta'Kaiya of the Sliammon First Nations People of British Columbia, Canada is the brave songwriter and singer in the video below, about the Tar Sands mining taking away her future:


Ecological Values

The Boreal Forest ecosystem is an extraordinary mosaic of interrelated habitats made up of forests, lakes, wetlands, rivers and tundra at its northern edge. The Boreal Forest region is dominated by spruce, aspen, birch, poplar and larch or tamaracks. Thirty percent of North America’s Boreal is covered by wetlands, consisting of bogs, fens, marshes, an estimated 1.5 million lakes, and some of the country’s largest river systems.
The North American Boreal Forest covers 2.3 million square miles -- 75% of the entire size of the contiguous United States.

The Boreal floor is covered by a dense layer of organic matter made up of peat and moss that is more than 10 feet thick in some areas. This cover is created when fallen trees, pine needles, leaves, and other plant remains fall to the ground and are prevented from decomposing by the cold boreal temperatures. This ground cover is particularly effective in storing carbon, and the boreal forests of Canada and Russia together store more carbon than any other terrestrial ecosystem on the planet. 
And it is being cut down.

Because the icy temperatures of the Boreal Forest, acting as a global refrigerator, it is able to keep plant remains from decomposing, thus preventing the release of carbon into the air. The sheer size of the Boreal Forest may help to regulate the Earth’s temperature, as it represents an area large enough to help buffer the dangerous effects of climate change.  It absorbs CO2 and gives off oxygen.  

And it is being cut down at an alarming rate.
(click above for more of the story)
Despite its remote location and natural ruggedness, the North American boreal is home to fourteen percent of Canada’s population, or roughly four million people. One third of these inhabitants are aboriginal. There are over 600 indigenous groups living in the area, generally formed into tribal groups known as First Nations. Indigenous Peoples of the Boreal Forest have linked their existence to the forest for hundreds of years, using the trees for heat, the plants for healing, and the animals for both food and clothing. 
And it is being cut down as you read this.
Wildlife and Birds

The variety of animals that coexist with humans is impressive, with mammals as enormous as a moose and as tiny as a pygmy shrew! The forest is home to the continent’s largest population of wolves, lynx, black and grizzlybears,and even the threatened woodland caribou. Over 8o species of butterfly and 40 species of dragonfly live in the Boreal, which also provides over half of the remaining habitat for Mink and Wood Frogs as well as Canada Toads. The lakes of the boreal are teeming with some of the world’s largest trout, bass, perch and whitefish.
The Boreal provides over 50% of the remaining habitat for moose, as well as safe haven for grizzly bear, Canada lynx, and more than a million caribou.

Google Images

Look What Tar Sands Mining Looks Like

(click above for more of the story)

 What about Tar Sands?
(click above for more of the story)

(click above for more of the story)
Google Images from Space

We CAN take action now before President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decide to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline soon by the end of this year.  Click on the link for the Natural Resources Defense Council organization below and then consider signing the petition to say, "No to Dirty Oil/No to the Keystone XL Pipeline," because it is so wrong for so many reasons.

The following is a letter to the editor I wrote that was published in a few Montana newspapers recently.  If we all do a little something, it adds up to a force bigger than each individual.  Together we are powerful.  Thanks for adding your voice.  ~ deborah

Dear Mr. President,

As a mother of three children, I am most concerned about the poisoned world we are leaving to our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren.

The Keystone XL Pipeline is such a disastrous idea, that if you took the time to understand what it is all about, surely you would not wish this legacy on your own daughters.

The disaster starts with the cutting down of the northern Boreal forests, which are our CO 2 absorbing forests and oxygen producing forests.  The waters downstream of the First Nations' People in Canada, are being poisoned by mining discharges. Then the crude oil is mixed with chemicals to make it flow, crossing 6 states and their waterways to Texas refineries to be sent to China. 

Pipelines break all the time, as seen recently by the Silvertip Pipeline used by Exxon oil and gas conglomerate, into the Yellowstone River, our national heritage blue ribbon river.  All oil spills are disasters to life on earth as we know it.

The Keystone XL to transport Tar Sands crude is a climate bomb. The extinction of the song birds nesting habitat is happening right now.  If they are the canaries in the coal mine, then what next?  

My family and I want no more oil spills in our waterways.  Instead, please help us in other meaningful ways to increase our energy portfolios, with greener alternatives.

To the Keystone XL say “NO!” 

Click below to lend your voice to the cause of environmental justice. Thank You!  Your grandchildren will thank you too.



  1. that shot of the midnight sun is amazing.

    this is really informative sistah - i've never heard of the boreal forest, but it's name is so fitting, as boreos in greek means north...

  2. You're doing a great job Deborah. I agree with you and would like to send that letter, I clicked to see, but right now I'm not an American Citizen. I'm a green card holder and I don't want to be labelled as an activist. However, I will give it some thought and come back to it because I feel for the earth and what we as humans are doing to it.

  3. Amanda ~ forgotten that Boreos means north in Greek. I knew it meant the northern pole rather than the southern pole. When I started looking into the Alberta tar sands mining mess, it surprised me too that the Boreal forest was so large.

    Star ~ I totally understand your dilemma of not wanting to be branded and worse...perhaps using a pseudonym address? Whomever are the "watchers" in Internet space, I'm sure I'm red flagged big time!

  4. The boreal forest is where my soul belongs. Precambrian rock, with lots of lakes and rivers.

    Sadly, my body is trapped in the metropolis. Exile is never fun. But I'm doing the best that I can.