Threatened Wilderness: The Last Intact Forests of Ontario

Publication - October 29, 2010
(Brampton) — Greenpeace has released a report, “Threatened Wilderness: The Last Intact Forests of Ontario,” that recommends immediate measures the McGuinty government can take to best safeguard threatened caribou and mitigate climate change by protecting conservation hotspots in Ontario. The report is based on a review of scientific literature and new satellite mapping tools. Highlights include:

Ontario’s Southern Boreal Forest

• The last large intact forest areas in the southern Boreal Forest will be gone by 2025 if nothing is done to protect them;

• Loss of the Southern Boreal Forest will contribute to climate change;

• Intact Boreal Forests in Canada contain some of the world’s largest carbon stocks;

• Logging leads to a 40 per cent to 80 per cent reduction of carbon stocks in Boreal ecosystems;

• Forty-seven per cent of Ontario’s forests are allocated for industrial logging;

• Seventy per cent of Ontario allocated forests have been fragmented by logging and road-building;

• Thirty to 50 per cent of land in a given area must be protected to maintain its biodiversity;

• The minimum protected area needed to sustain most mammals is 500,000 hectares; only two protected areas in Ontario’s allocated forest are this size;

• Ninety-seven per cent of protected areas in Ontario’s commercial forest are smaller than 50,000 hectares.

Woodland Caribou – Endangered iconic species

• The Woodland caribou - featured on the back of the Canadian quarter - is threatened with extinction across Canada and have already lost half their range in Ontario due to logging and industrial development;

• To survive, Woodland caribou require forest ranges that are larger than 9,000 square kilometres (km2);

• One study found that seven out of nine caribou populations along the southern extent of caribou range in Ontario are no longer self-sustaining; more logging and road-building is planned in all nine of their ranges;

• At least 23,000 kilometres of logging roads – equivalent to two round trips from Saint John, New Brunswick to Vancouver, B.C. – exist in the commercial forest, and at least 12,000 km is permanent;

• Logging and fragmentation have caused major changes to landscapes and forest stands, and have had negative impacts on wildlife, forest soils and aquatic ecosystems.

Key Recommendations

• The McGuinty government should immediately defer all logging and industrial activity in two priority conservation areas, the Ogoki-Kenogami Forest and the Trout Lake-Caribou Forest;

• The McGuinty government should identify and map all remaining intact forests, using a scientific advisory committee, and should select and establish a network of large protected areas in the allocated forest in cooperation with First Nations by 2015;

• A strategy for preserving intact forests and their ecological values should be developed by the ministries of Natural Resources and Northern Development, Mines and Forestry and amendments should be made to the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, the provincial legislation for forest management.

Download a copy of Threatened Wilderness