03/28/2011 - For those of us fortunate enough to enjoy the luxury, water is as accessible as our kitchen tap. While water makes up more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, only .013 percent of it is readily available fresh water. What most of us experience as abundant is actually a precious commodity.
Water scarcity and contamination are serious and growing global concerns for people and nature. We have already seen how mismanagement of water resources can lead to enormous environmental disasters, such as the drying up of the Aral Sea or groundwater arsenic pollution in Bangladesh.
Enhanced regulatory oversight is critical, but one of the best and most affordable things we can do for future generations is to identify and protect the Earth’s remaining pristine lakes, rivers and wetlands. There is no better place to start than Canada’s boreal forest, where we have the rare opportunity to safeguard one of the last, great storehouses of our global freshwater supply.
I worked with a team of scientists on the Pew Environment Group’s recent report, “A Forest of Blue: Canada’s Boreal Forest, the World’s Waterkeeper,” which found that Canada’s boreal—the largest intact forest on Earth—supports 25 percent of the world’s wetlands, as well as millions of pristine lakes and thousands of free-flowing rivers. It contains 197 million acres of surface fresh water, an area twice the size of California. It harbors more surface area of fresh, clean water than any other ecosystem on earth.
Read the full article Protecting Canada’s ‘Blue’ Forest on National Geographic's Web site.