Why should I get involved with nature in Canada?

70% of Canada is made up of large natural areas. 34% of the country is covered with forest, 53% of which is virgin forest (1.2).

Every:r knows about the threat and the value of the Amazon forests. But at the same time, hardly anyone talks about Canada's forgotten ecosystem: British Columbia (BC) is home to the world's last large contiguous area of temperate rainforest (3). There is still virgin forest there, unlike in Germany. And yet, unfortunately, the timber industry is one of the most important economic sectors in Canada and BC, of all places, is one of the last jurisdictions on earth that continues to allow large-scale logging of 600-1800 year old virgin forest giants (4). Between 2003 and 2010, logging in BC alone was responsible for an annual
CO₂ emissions of 49.5 megatons (5), more than the whole of Finland.
Consequential problems include erosion of nutrient-rich soils, lack of precipitation, low water in rivers, lack of air filters and water storage, heated microclimates, loss of entire genetic libraries, disruption of salmon spawning cycles in Canada, and increasing global CO2 emissions contributing to climate change. About 13% of global CO₂ emissions come from forest loss (6), far more than from aviation (7).

Unique and species-rich nature

The temperate rainforest is a unique ecosystem. Its primeval forests are home to a unique biodiversity and giant trees that are thousands of years old. Rare ghost flowers are at home here, as well as bears, wolves and eagles. 

Wilderness is the only place where countless species find a suitable habitat. The older forests become, the greater their genetic diversity and the better the reproductive capacity of their creatures. Thus, virgin forests guarantee the survival of countless species and are essential for the preservation of biodiversity (8). Only if existing nature is preserved can biodiversity spread from there again. This is essential for the restoration and rehabilitation of degraded forests, lands, and soils, especially those affected by desertification, drought, and floods.
After deforestation, some functional groups such as fungi, lichens, and beetles take up to 180 years to recover and never return to virgin forest levels. These slow recovery rates of some functional groups that are essential for ecosystem functioning make primary forests an irreplaceable biodiversity resource (9).

Climate Conservation

Temperate rainforests are the world's leaders in CO₂ storage. The trees and peatlands, which are up to 2,000 years old, play a crucial role in climate protection. Nowhere else do the trees and forest peatlands bind so much CO₂ - over 60 kg per square meter in the Misty Forest! In addition, large diameter trees have disproportionately massive amounts of carbon stored (10). By protecting them, we ensure that the carbon remains sequestered and does not return to the atmosphere as CO₂, where it would accelerate global warming. Greenhouse gases distribute themselves evenly in the atmosphere. According to the principle of climate neutrality, it is therefore irrelevant where emissions are caused or saved. The decisive factor is rather that the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is reduced globally.
In addition, we ensure other important functions of the forest for a stable climate: for example, its cooling and water storage function, without which important precipitation would not occur, so that it would become increasingly hot and dry. Furthermore, the forest produces vital oxygen and filters the air.
Protecting Canadian rainforests is therefore a tangible contribution to climate protection. 

Wilderness has a positive impact globally

Protecting wilderness areas has many positive effects: Stable precipitation, clean air, clear water, biodiversity, climate preservation, resting places for retreat and recreation, fantastic landscapes, space for adventure and challenge, reflection on our roots. Where we protect these places has no bearing on how much we can benefit from these positive effects.

There is still wilderness in Canada

 In Germany, too, there were once primeval forests with old trees all over the country. The fact that there is nothing left of it today shows that wilderness cannot be taken for granted. It is our responsibility to protect the remaining wilderness areas, no matter where they are.

Saying thank you to nature

The natural balance is only maintained if we no longer just take, but also give. Therefore, it is time to finally give back to nature. Let's say thank you for everything she provides us with - let's protect her.

Legal certainty and permanent protection

Canada is a constitutional state with strict regulations on ownership. This makes arbitrary expropriation impossible. Unlike in countries with less pronounced legal security, damage therefore entails comprehensive sanctions. The British Columbia Trespass Act clearly prohibits trespassing on private land. Violations are prosecuted on complaint, even if no damage has been done. A fence, natural boundaries or signs should be a given, which is why our lands are marked with signs. In addition, due to their remoteness and the undeveloped area, our protected areas can only be reached with great financial, material and time effort and not without risk. We control the protected areas during regular expeditions. The areas are purchased by Wilderness International and our Canadian sister foundation Wilderness International (Canada) by land registration. Our bylaws stipulate with the foundation's purpose that the lands will be left untouched and visited only for research and documentation purposes. The foundation construct prevents the rights over the disposition of property from resting with any one person. Rather, the foundation, and thus its land, always belongs to all of the people involved in the foundation at time X. This ensures the long-term protection of the purchased land. We always make an advance payment when purchasing land. Your donation refinances the purchase. In this way, we ensure that your donation is actually used to protect exactly the piece of forest that you have selected.

Acute threat

Only about 25% of the original area of temperate rainforest remains in Canada. These last areas are exposed to various threats:

  • Timber extraction in virgin forests
  • Agricultural land displaces forests
  • Urban sprawl and construction of infrastructure such as roads
  • Canada's withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol

Also read "Why not local projects?" and "Why don't Canadians engage themselves?"

1: Mongabay (2010). Canada Forest Information and Data. Retrieved 02/04/2022.
2: Watson, James E. M., Allan, James R. et al. (2018). Protect the last of the wild. Nature 563, p.27-30 (2018).
3: DellaSala, D.A.(ed.), 2010. temperate and boreal rainforests of the world: ecology and conservation, Island Press, Washington,D.C.
4: Wu, K., Sept. 14, 2019. what will it take to save B.C.'s old-growth forests?, Vancouver Sun, Vancouver.
5: Wieting, J., 2015. B.C. Forest Wake-Up Call: Heavy Carbon Losses Hit 10-Year Mark, Sierra Club BC, Victoria.
6: Quarks (2018). This is why rainforest destruction is worse than you think.
7: Ritchie, H. (2020). Climate change and flying: what share of global CO2 emissions come from aviation? Our world in data.
8: Gibson, L., Lee, T.M., et al. (2011). Primary forests are irreplaceable for sustaining tropical biodiversity. Nature 478, 378-381 (2011).
9: Spake, R., Ezard, T.H.G., Martin, P.A. et al. (2015). A meta-analysis of functional group responses to forest recovery outside of the tropics.
10: Mildrexler, D. J., Berner, L. T., Law, B. et al. (2020). Large Trees Dominate Carbon Storage in Forests East of the Cascade Crest in the United States Pacific Northwest. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change 3(20).

Need more support? Contact us Contact us