|Canada's Tar Sands
Impacts of the Tar Sands on Birds
Essential bird habitat is destroyed or fragmented by open pit mines, toxic tailings ponds, deep drilling installations, roads and pipeline networks.
Every spring, millions of birds flock to Canada's boreal forest, which runs from Quebec to the Yukon. It's estimated every 2.5 square kilometres of the forest can support as many as 500 breeding pairs of migratory birds. At 1.3 billion acres, the Canadian Boreal Forest is one of the largest intact forest and wetland ecosystems remaining on earth, yet it is coming under increasing pressure from logging, mining, and oil and gas operations.
Approximately 14 million hectares – an area as big as Florida - could eventually be developed for tar sand developments, of which 300,000 hectares (3,000 km2) would be for strip mining, 10,000 hectares (100 km2) for toxic settling ponds, and 3.5 million hectares (35,680 km2) for deep oil sands development. Despite industry claims that the mined areas are "reclaimed," there is no evidence that this is occurring adequately.
Instead, there is every reason to believe that once an area has been stripped of its vegetation, soils and life support systems, "reclaiming" it to even a ghost-like facsimile of its previous state is much more complex than simply spreading soil over the gaping wound and planting it in a monoculture.
Even with preventive efforts in place, tailings ponds continue to pose a danger to birds. As waterfowl and shorebirds return from migration journeys hundreds of kilometres long, the ponds appear to be welcome places to rest and feed.
Read more about the impact of tar sands on birds in the report, Danger in the Nursery: Impact on birds of tar sands oil development in Canada's Boreal forest