Size – Approximately half of Saskatchewan is boreal forest, and 35% of the Saskatchewan boreal is wetland and water. The main industries are forestry, mineral exploration and mining, petroleum exploration and extraction, and hydro-electric developments. Rich in wildlife and wetlands, it is also an important area for recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, boating and canoeing. Saskatchewan’s boreal forest can be viewed as two distinct regions based on landform: the “commercial forest” found on the boreal plains, and the rugged Precambrian shield to the north.
Projects – Much of the boreal forest in Saskatchewan is intact and undeveloped, especially in the Precambrian shield, but ongoing industrial growth is increasing the need to have guidelines for land use to protect wetlands while still meeting industry needs. For several years we have been working in partnership with Mistik Management Ltd of Meadow Lake, SK to advance wetland conservation in their Forest Management Agreement Area in northwest Saskatchewan. For example, our detailed wetland inventory has helped Mistik recommend areas for long term protection. In a similar way, we are working with Weyerhaeuser Ltd of Hudson Bay, SK on a technical study to learn of how to best construct roads to minimize impacts to wetlands.
Priorities – We are working with both government and industry leaders in boreal Saskatchewan. We are participating in the development of the Saskatchewan Environmental Code, a process being led by the Ministry of Environment, to develop rules for industry around environmental protection in Saskatchewan. We are also developing a detailed wetland inventory that land managers can use to help make land use decisions that conserve wetland habitats. So far, approximately two-thirds of the commercial forest of Saskatchewan has been mapped and we plan to complete the mapping in the next five years.