Most forests store carbon in living plants, but Canada’s boreal holds up to 95 percent of its carbon riches in soil, peatlands and permafrost—features that can accumulate and hold carbon over the course of thousands of years.
This long-term storage capacity is enormous. The amount of carbon buried deep below the boreal surface is roughly equivalent to at least 70 years of annual emissions from China, the world’s largest polluting nation, and more than 110 years of annual emissions from the United States, the second largest polluter.
When industrial projects dig deep into soil and muskeg, they can release thousand-year-old carbon reservoirs into the atmosphere in bursts. Conserving the boreal keeps these carbon riches in place and helps protect against the threat of unchecked climate change.
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