Friday Flick: Saving Wolf Lake

Wolf Lake is in the south-western part of Ontario’s Temagami canoe area, 50 km northeast of Sudbury. It is at the heart of the world’s largest contiguous ancient red pine forest and lies on the Chiniguchi River, a popular wilderness canoe route. Old growth red pine forests are rare critically endangered and remain at only 1.2% of their original extent.

In 1999, the government of Ontario committed to protect the Wolf Lake ancient pine forest. The Chiniguchi Waterway Provincial Park was created upstream and downstream of the lake. However, mining claims and leases surrounding Wolf Lake prevented the inclusion of that area within the park. Instead, it was designated a Forest Reserve, which allows mineral exploration and mining, but prohibits logging.

But Ontario recently renewed the Wolf Lake area mining leases for another 21 year term, and could continue to do forever if supporters of Wolf Lake do not take action.

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Wolf Lake’s sub-boreal groves may not carry the cachet of BC’s giant cedar rainforests, but new research from the University of Guelph – published in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation – says that allowing industrial extraction here would significantly threaten biodiversity in Canada.

“Wolf Lake Forest deserves intensive study, monitoring and full protection from future development,” said Guelph environmental sciences professor Madhur Anand, the study’s lead author.

Old-growth forests have dwindled in North America because of timber harvesting, land conversion and other human uses. Today they cover less than one per cent of their original range – down to about one million acres from 700 million acres.

As well, Wolf Lake Forest is important for informing future restoration practices, the study says. “Ecological restoration relies on an excellent understanding of what ‘natural’ forests are and how they behave,” Anand said.

“Even forestry is playing copycat in recent years, focusing on harvest techniques that emulate natural disturbances to minimize ecological disruption,” she said. “As the largest natural old-growth red pine forest, Wolf Lake can serve as a standard of ecological integrity.”

No less an environmental luminary than Dr. Jane Goodall recently made a plea to permanently protect Wolf Lake:

Text (with edits) reblogged from