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Boreal forests worth $250 billion per year worldwide

Boreal forests worth $250 billion per year worldwide

Boreal forests worth $250 billion per year worldwide
September 24, 2006

Boreal forests provide services worth $250 billion per year globally according to estimates by Canadian researchers.

Carbon in Canada’s boreal forest worth $3.7 trillion

Carbon stored in Canada’s boreal forests and peatlands is worth $3.7 trillion according to research by the Pembina Institute for the Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI).

Mark Anielski, an Edmonton economist, says that environmental services from the boreal — including carbon capture and storage, water filtration and waste treatment, biodiversity maintenance, and pest control — are worth about $160 per hectare, or $93 billion per year in Canada alone.

“If these ecosystem services were counted in Canada, they would amount to roughly 9% of GDP,” Anielski said on the eve of Canada’s 10th National Forest Congress meeting at Lac Leamy in Gatineau-Ottawa. “Ignoring these values would be like leaving out the combined annual contribution to GDP made by Canada’s health and social services sector and half of the public services sector.”

The Congress, which aims to advance responsible management of forest resources, is expected to attract 200-300 attendees from around the world when it meets Sept 25-27. At the conference Anielski will recommend that governments, industry, local communities develop a natural capital accounting system to provide “a comprehensive inventory of the boreal’s natural capital” that would “reveal the total value of ecosystems and… guide land-use planning, resource management and economic development policies.”

“Resource extraction and development in the boreal are vital to human well-being, of course,” said Anielski. “The point of our research is that services provided by the boreal ecosystem make a quantifiable contribution to well-being as well — values that are important to reflect in national and regional economic balance sheets and measures like Gross Domestic Product.”

“The boreal is like a giant carbon bank account,” he explained. “The forests and peatlands store an estimated 67 billion tonnes of carbon in Canada alone — almost eight times the amount of carbon produced worldwide in year 2000. The Canadian boreal on average absorbs and sequesters each year an additional amount of carbon worth $1.8 billion (based on figures about the price of carbon emissions created by the global insurance industry).

“Among other questions to be addressed is whether and how that contribution to global well-being by Canada and other boreal countries should be recognized by other nations,” Anielski added.

Boreal forest is a biome characterized by coniferous forest cover and is primarily found in Alaska, Canada, Sweden, Finland, northern Kazakhstan and Russia (especially Siberia). Boreal forest represents the world’s largest terrestrial biome according to Wikipedia.

All figures are in Canadian dollars.

This article is based on a news release from the Canadian Forest Congress.

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