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 Caption: The largest remaining intact forests are found in five regions around the globe. Canada’s boreal is the biggest. Credit: Canadian Geographic

Caption: The largest remaining intact forests are found in five regions around the globe. Canada’s boreal is the biggest. Credit: Canadian Geographic

 
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Thick stands of black spruce, jackpine and fir span the horizon in blankets of evergreen, while ribbons of tamarack larch turn golden orange in the fall. Along rivers and lakes, hardwoods like white birch, trembling aspen and balsam poplar burst into life each spring. Scientists estimate the boreal is home to 500 billion to 600 billion trees. Taken together, the boreal holds one-quarter of the planet’s remaining primary forest.

Yet the forest encompasses far more than trees. Spanning 1.4 billion acres of land, the boreal unfolds in a rich tapestry of forest, taiga, tundra, peatlands, saltmarshes, rivers and lakes. The region is home to a quarter of the world's wetlands, which house vibrant reserves of biodiversity. The boreal's varied landscape supports a rich array of plant and animal life and maintains clean air, clean water and other ecosystem services.

 
 

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