John Reid exploring the wetlands of the Whitehorse, Yukon.
By Don Reid
“Ever Green,” a newly published book about Saving Big Forests to Save the Planet, is a mantra of hope in our global crisis of climate disruption that explains the opportunity and need to keep these forests intact. In fact, this is the central message of authors John Reid, a conservation economist, and the late tropical ecologist Thomas Lovejoy in this wonderfully researched, evocatively written, and stunningly illustrated tour of the five big, intact, forest regions of the world – the boreal forests of North America and Eurasia, plus the tropical forests of the Amazon, the Congo, and New Guinea.
Carbon is the currency of the climate crisis and these big forests hold a lot of it in their trees and soils. The boreal forest, for instance, stores the equivalent of 190 years’ worth of carbon at the rate of human-induced carbon emissions in 2019. As much as possible, we have to keep that carbon stored in our forests by protecting large swaths of them, stopping the clearing of forests for industrial outputs, and suppressing more of the increasingly frequent fires that are now more and more of our own making.
In preparing to write “Ever Green,” John Reid visited with WCS Canada staff Donald Reid (no relation) and Hilary Cooke in Yukon. John describes our conversations and field trip into the early winter boreal forest of southern Yukon, including to a regenerating burn. He recounts conversations on the land with members of the Kaska First Nations, whose vision for their traditional territories includes large Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas with extensive forest protection. WCS Canada continues to work with the Kaska and other Indigenous groups in northwest Canada in pursuit of such protection. In fact, retaining large and globally important intact areas is a key focus on WCS Canada’s work, from the still ecologically intact Yukon to the vast undisturbed – and incredibly carbon rich -- peatlands of the Hudson Bay Lowlands in Ontario.
The essential role that intact forests are playing in the climate puzzle is easily overlooked. They are working all the time on our behalf to take carbon out of the atmosphere and keep it stored. “Ever Green” awakens us to the magnitude and profound necessity of this service to humanity and how easily we could (and should) be embracing this nature-based solution to the climate crisis. But it does so much more. Recounting Indigenous storytelling, scientific insights, and the innumerable sensations of a thriving forest, the book brings to life the central role of intact forests in conserving a host of other marvellous creatures, an amazing diversity of human cultures, and the planetary water cycle on which our future depends. As the subtitle says, this is literally about saving the planet, including ourselves.
The book is available through Amazon and Chapters-Indigo. Not to be missed!
Photo credits: Banner | William Halliday © WCS Canada