Press release

Boreal forest area delivers over $120 million a year of benefits Valuation supports bid for World Heritage Site

December 2, 2008

WINNIPEG—December 3, 2008—A vast tract of boreal forest that straddles Manitoba and Ontario has a conservative estimated economic value of between $121 and $130 million a year, according to a Image by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (PDF - 2.4 mb), released today.

IISD produced the study for Pimachiowin Aki (PIM-AH-CHEE-OWE-IN AHH-KEY) Inc., a non-profit group leading the bid to have the site designated an international treasure, similar to other World Heritage Sites like Australia's Great Barrier Reef, Egypt's pyramids at Giza and Canada's Rocky Mountains.

IISD researchers Stephan Barg and Vivek Voora have assessed the value of some well-known economic activities in the boreal forest—like hunting and trapping—but also used green economics to put a value on the benefits nature offers, such as clean air and water.

"There's more going on in the boreal forest then you might think," Barg said. "Estimating these ecosystem services helps show that the value of this intact boreal forest is far more than what the current level of economic activity suggests."

Intact natural environments like this stretch of boreal forest are becoming increasingly scarce worldwide as a result of human expansion and activity.

"By applying a dollar value to this area we are providing an economic reason to preserve and maintain it as an intact area," Voora said. "This is an emerging analysis that we know has growing interest around the world. As well, this may lead to some payments in the future for people who preserve, manage and maintain the forest."

Using green economics to value natural environments is a new way of thinking for some people, but it is part of a growing international effort. And it is common sense for people who live on the land, according to Pimachiowin Aki spokesperson Sophia Rabliauskas (SO-FI-A RA-BLOUSE-KISS).

"As First Nations, we already know the value of this land—because we live on it and live with it every day. Now we want our neighbours, people who live in cities and people around the world to understand how important it is. This study brings a new perspective that validates what people have been saying all along," Rabliauskas said.

Please refer to FAQs (PDF - 542 kb) for more about ecosystems services valuation assessment.

A summary report (PDF - 2.2 mb) is also available, in addition to the final report (PDF - 2.4 mb).

More information see: AND


About IISD

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an award-winning independent think tank working to accelerate solutions for a stable climate, sustainable resource management, and fair economies. Our work inspires better decisions and sparks meaningful action to help people and the planet thrive. We shine a light on what can be achieved when governments, businesses, non-profits, and communities come together. IISD’s staff of more than 250 experts come from across the globe and from many disciplines. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa, and Toronto, our work affects lives in nearly 100 countries.