Adapting to change
Like all natural systems, the Boreal in Manitoba is ever changing. Over tens of thousands of years, this landscape has accommodated retreating ice, forest fires, and the departure and arrival of new species of plants and animals, including humans.
Presently, the pace of that change is increasing. Habitat disturbance from human activity and the rapid progression of climate change mean the next 25 years will no doubt see new and unforeseen challenges and opportunities.
An inescapable sign of the dynamism of the Boreal is the arrival of new species and the return of species long lost from the region.
Though there is no consensus on whether there is a breeding population in Manitoba, cougars are increasing their range, including into the Boreal. Some suspect they are following the range expansion of white-tailed deer.
Similarly, grizzly bears are returning to the north of the province in areas currently populated by polar bears, an area that is already seeing rapid ecological changes.
Ensuring large areas of Boreal are preserved will buffer the impacts of climate change and provide diverse habitats that will help species adapt to new challenges.
Images from the month of December in the 2016 CPAWS Boreal Wilderness Calendar. Cougar by Jeff Wendorff. Grizzley Bear by First Light Photography