The Yukon Conservation Society is welcoming this week's report from an international scientific group, urging protection for half of Canada's boreal forests.

The International Boreal Conservation Science Panel also calls on the Yukon government to accept the Peel Watershed Planning Commission's final report.


Karen Baltgailis, from the Yukon Conservation Society, said the report confirms the need to protect large areas of forest. (CBC)

Karen Baltgailis, with the Yukon Conservation Society, said the report comes from a reputable scientific panel.

"This report confirms the need for large intact areas to protect biodiversity and that fits really well with the vision of the Peel Planning Commission and the Peel First Nations and the Yukon public for protecting 80 per cent of the Peel watershed," she said.

Baltgailis said boreal forest covers almost the entire territory, and about 12 per cent is already protected.

"With climate change changing the landscape it's going to be even more important to have large intact areas to act as refuges for wide-ranging wildlife like grizzly and wolverine and caribou."

Baltgailis said if 80 per cent of the Peel watershed was set aside, that would still only mean protection for a quarter of the Yukon's forests, which is much less than what's being proposed by the conservation panel.

Report co-author Jeff Wells is the senior scientist with the Pew Charitable Trust's boreal conservation campaign.

He says boreal forests hold massive amounts of fresh water and carbon, and are important for wildlife, including more than a billion birds.

Wells says right now about 20 per cent of boreal regions have some protection across Canada's North.

Government not responding to report

The Yukon government is choosing not to respond the report.

The Yukon Party government rejected the option to protect 80 per cent of the Peel Watershed, and is doing its own alternative consultations.

Elaine Schiman, a cabinet communications spokesperson, said it's not appropriate for the Yukon government to speak about the scientific panel's report at this time.

"We have officials working on representing all the affected First Nations as well as the Yukon government and they are working towards concluding the First Nation portion of the consultations. And then the government will be moving to conclude the planning process in a way that is balanced and respects the environment as well as all sectors of the Yukon economy," she said.

The ongoing talks are between the governments of Yukon and the Vuntut Gwitchin, Na-Cho Nyak Dun, and Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nations and the Gwich'in Tribal Council.