Good Migrants, and Good News, From Canada’s Boreal Forest

Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve, Labrador. Photo: Larry Innes

New protected areas provide a haven for migratory birds—and much more

Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve, Labrador. Photo: Larry Innes

Throughout the fall, migratory birds have been streaming through the United States, headed south from their breeding grounds in the boreal forest of Canada. Some will make very long journeys to places as distant as the Caribbean, Mexico, or South America. Many—an estimated 1 billion or more—will stop in the U.S. for the winter.

Along with the birds, some good news has come from Canada in recent months: plans to protect more than 11 million acres of boreal forest, which supports millions of migratory birds that can return next spring to nest in a “nursery” with no logging, mining, hydro development, or other industrial activities.

In July, in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Canadian government created eastern Canada’s largest national park on the Atlantic Coast, more than 600 miles northeast of Maine.

Called Akami–uapishku-KakKasuak in the Innu-aimun language and Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve in English, the park encompasses 2.6 million acres of rugged landscape full of forest, tundra, lakes, rivers, and even a 50-mile stretch of sandy beach called the Wunderstrand. The Mealy Mountains’ many special breeding birds include the stunningly beautiful harlequin ducks that were hatched in the region’s rocky streams and will soon be arriving for winter along the New England coast.

Harlequin Duck. Photo: Peter Massas via Flickr

The establishment of Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve followed news from northern Quebec a few weeks earlier that the provincial government had safeguarded more than 2 million acres of the Broadback River watershed. The Grand Council of the Crees had long advocated for the protection of these lands in traditional Cree territory.

Many rivers have been dammed in Quebec for hydropower, with negative impacts on fish, —> Read More