Traditional knowledge held by Canada's Aboriginal people about the Boreal Forest offers western scientists a vitally important information source. With the Boreal Forest facing increasing threats from climate change, habitat loss and fragmentation, and invasive species, this knowledge is more important than ever.
Conservation Value of the North American Boreal Forest from an Ethnobotanical Perspective describes the deep botanical and ecological knowledge that Canada's Aboriginal peoples have gained over thousands of years of using the Boreal Forest as grocery, pharmacy, school, and spiritual centre. The report notes that the value of the Canada's Boreal Forest to Aboriginal people in terms of subsistence (plant and animal) foods alone could reach up to $575.1 million.
The report illustrates how scientists and policymakers often overlook ecological issues until a crisis arises. For example, although few plants species in the boreal region are classified as threatened or endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act or provincial and territorial species legislation, many face widespread human-induced pressures, including habitat loss and climate change.