By Kate Lindsay, Director of Conservation Biology, Forest Products Association of Canada
Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to spend time in Algonquin Park with family and friends. In my case, I was particularly fortunate (thanks to my 1-year old) to experience the early morning chorus of birds that call Canada’s forests (managed and un-managed) home.
Canada’s forests and wetlands provide important breeding and nesting habitat for bird species. In Canada’s boreal region, as many as five billion breeding or migratory birds pass through annually, representing more than 200 species. Forest companies realize they have an important role to play to support the conservation of these birds.
Canada’s managed forests provide a variety of bird habitat conditions through long-term planning over a large landscape. Actions include:
- Maintaining adequate coarse woody debris such as, logs, stumps and large branches
- Leaving riparian buffers along lakes, streams and other waterways that are used as nesting and breeding habitat by birds,
- Retaining stick nests and snag trees
- Advancing bird-friendly awareness and training among company employees
The Canadian Forest Service at Natural Resources Canada says the overall population trends of most boreal bird species are either stable or increasing. But some bird populations are decreasing. One of the great challenges in helping a species recover is determining the causes of its decline, especially for migratory birds which may spend more than half the year outside Canada. Forest companies support research and monitoring programs to further improve current practices, following an ‘adaptive management’ approach.
To conserve a broad range of habitat types over a large landscape, forest companies in Canada follow sustainable forest management. Canada is a world leader in this area with 43% of the world’s independently certified forests. A key component of forest certification programs is conserving biological diversity (or biodiversity). Birds are seen as a key barometer of biodiversity and the way they react to harvesting and other disturbances in the forest can suggest how other species are faring.
Canada also has the world’s largest conservation agreement, the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA). It brings together forest companies and conservation groups to work together with scientists, aboriginal and local communities to integrate both economic and environmental values including efforts to help protect wildlife species (including birds) in the Boreal.
All in all, the Canadian forest products industry is trying to make sure that those billions of birds flocking through Canadian forests each year continue to find a welcome habitat. I highly recommend that you get out and enjoy the Canadian wilderness and experience firsthand the many bird species that call our forests their summer home.