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Protect the Boreal Forest

For the sake of our climate, creatures and communities, we must preserve the Canadian boreal forest — the largest intact forest left on Earth.

Circling the Northern hemisphere in a ring of spruce, firs and pines, the boreal forest is the most carbon-rich ecosystem on Earth. In Canada, the boreal forest covers more than 1 billion acres — making it the largest intact forest remaining on our planet. The Canadian boreal forest is a refuge for such species as caribou, cougars and grizzly bears, whose habitats have dwindled further south. Billions of birds, nearly half of all avian species in North America, breed in the boreal before flying southward into our backyards and parks each winter. Indigenous peoples have lived in balance with these ecosystems for millennia — stewarding the land as well as relying upon it for sustenance and their traditions.

The Canadian boreal forest has provided the world, and especially the United States, with lumber for decades. As a result, the Canadian boreal is being cut down at a rate of one million acres per year. That’s 1.5 football fields’ worth of forest every single minute. For the sake of our climate, biodiversity and people, it's time to protect the boreal forest.

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The boreal forest encircles the earth with coniferous trees; it covers more than 1 billion acres in Canada. It is filled with mossy peatlands and unbroken stretches of forest; it’s freshwater bodies provide drinking water for millions of people. It provides critical habitat for species like the boreal caribou, cougars, and grizzly bears and is a nesting ground for billions of birds that migrate to our backyards and parks every year. In fact, nearly half of North American bird species breed there. The Canadian boreal is also incredibly important for our climate. It absorbs enough carbon dioxide each year to offset the emissions of 24 million cars, and its trees and soil store 300 billion tons of carbon, which is nearly twice as much carbon as all of the recoverable oil reserves in the world, combined.

But the forest is shrinking, and fast. A million acres of trees are chopped down every year to produce softwood lumber and other products. American companies like The Home Depot contribute to the demand for these products, and the impacts of logging are already visible. More than half of the iconic woodland caribou herds — a cornerstone of many Indigenous tribes’ culture and history — are endangered. On average, 26 million metric tons of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere every year from degrading the boreal.

Logging in the Canadian boreal forest needs to be reduced and regulated. Because the US accounts for the majority of Canada’s total forest exports, American consumers have the power to protect this forest. Some companies source nearly all of their wood products from forests that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which ensures that forests are managed in a way that protects the climate, animals and communities that call the forest home. However, The Home Depot, which sources 90% of its wood from North America, lags far behind. As the largest home improvement retailer in the U.S., it has the means to commit to sourcing its wood sustainably.

The Home Depot already has a wood sourcing policy. With enough pressure from our network of American consumers that care about the boreal, The Home Depot will have no choice but to update its wood sourcing policy to include protections for the boreal forest. With the help of our supporters, we’ll deliver petition signatures, publish letters to the editor, send emails, contact executives, and do whatever it takes to amp up the pressure on The Home Depot.

And we’ll do it now, because every minute that we wait, one and a half football fields’ worth of the Canadian boreal forest is cut down. As we experience the impacts of climate change — wildfires, droughts, hurricanes and more — American companies are making a profit from the destruction of one of our greatest and most promising natural climate solutions, the boreal forest. We have no more time to delay; it’s time to protect the boreal forest in order to protect our planet.