Plants & Animals

Wildlife Conservation Society Canada to release information hub on the largest peatland in North America


23 March 2022

A growing demand for “critical minerals” may put one of the largest carbon sinks in the world at risk. A new hub will look at all the values at play in the Ring of Fire in Canada.

The so-called “Ring of Fire” is a mineral resource region located in the far north region of Ontario, Canada, about 1,000 kilometers north of Toronto. Also part of the Hudson Bay Lowland, the Ring of Fire is part of the largest peatland in North America, and the second largest near-continuous expanse of peatland in the world.  

WCS Canada — a non-profit organization of scientists who have been working in northern Ontario since 2004 to support the conservation of fish and wildlife, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems in the region, ecosystem services related to storage of water and carbon, and threats like contaminants — will be releasing an information hub on this region, including new maps, explorations of ecosystems, an archive of news articles, pathways to take conservation action, and more. 

Twitter: twitter.com/WCSRingofFire
Facebook: facebook.com/WCSRingOfFire  

Named by a team of mining executives and prospecting geologists in 2007, the Ring of Fire has been defined by the size and shape of the mineral deposits (and the permitted mineral claims) covering up to 5,000 square kilometres. This development could turn into a mega-project: a large-scale, complex venture that typically costs $1 billion or more, takes many years to build, involves multiple public and private stakeholders, is transformational, and impacts millions of people. 

The peat soils in this landscape — of a type often called ‘muskeg’ in Canada — are 2m – 4m deep and very old. This vital carbon store, however, is slated for massive disruption and development by roads, mining companies, and the looming threat of climate change, with the province ready deploy the proverbial bulldozer to re-create Alberta’s Oilsands in Ontario. 

Because it took thousands of years for the peat to accumulate, if the peatlands in the Hudson Bay Lowland are destroyed or damaged, the carbon lost will not be recovered within our lifetimes, or on a timescale to meet climate change targets. Even if they are restored – these peatlands need to be protected. 

WCS Canada also works with a number of First Nation communities to support their research and monitoring priorities and vision for their homelands, particularly First Nations protected areas. We have been engaged in government-led impact assessment and land use planning processes affecting the species, ecosystems, and communities in Northern Ontario since 2009. 

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