New research from the University of Guelph, published Tuesday in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation, says that allowing industrial extraction in a northern Ontario old-growth red pine forest the largest remaining in the world would significantly threaten biodiversity in Canada.
The study says that Wolf Lake Forest Reserve is a "scientifically irreplaceable system."
"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.
Wolf Lake is the largest intact old-growth red pine forest left. The parcel of Crown land is located about 50 kilometres northeast of Sudbury and is bordered by Chiniguchi Waterway Provincial Park. To date, trees as old as 300 years have been found.
The old growth forest is protected from logging, but open to mining and mineral exploration. It has attracted considerable media and public attention, with many groups pointing to the forest's aesthetic, social, and sustainable economic value.
The conflict prompted Anand and her research team to study the scientific value of the old-growth forest. They reviewed data on everything from climate change to the forest floor, as well as legislation and policy complexities.
Their conclusions? Old-growth forests, and this stand in particular, have ecological value not available from younger forests or smaller stands, including:
|Contact: Madhur Anand|
University of Guelph