Algonquin Provincial Park is a Canadian icon. It evokes classic images of wilderness: loon-serenaded lakes, blazing sugar maples and towering pines, rugged canoe trips and moose-haunted bogs. But for all Algonquin’s beauty and ecological significance, the Ontario government is failing in its mandate to protect it.
Surprisingly only 14% of Ontarians are aware that Algonquin Park has been open to industrial logging since its inception. Over 5400 km of logging roads lace the perceived ‘backcountry’ of our flagship park. Logging is incompatible with a protected area. Even the most careful operations can threaten species at risk and other ecosystem values. Protected areas must provide a haven from such threats, but unfortunately, most of Algonquin is still zoned to allow logging and road building despite a recent government initiative to ‘lighten the footprint’ of the forest industry. The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario called for an end to logging in Algonquin Park. We welcomed this. You can read our response here.
The history of Wildlands League is intricately tied to this history of this beloved park and our long-standing legal name reflects this. In 1968 a group of Ontarians concerned about the health of Algonquin Park got together and formed the Algonquin Wildlands League with the goal of getting logging removed from the Park. We are still working to get this done. Algonquin contains the highest concentration of self sustaining trout lakes in the world and it anchors the southern range of many of Ontario’s large mammal species like moose, wolves, black bear and marten. It forms the headwaters for 4 major rivers and sustains remnants of the original forest that covered all of central Ontario. Its beauty and wildlife are world renowned.
Within a day’s drive of about 40 million people and receiving over 1 million visitors per year, Algonquin is the most natural environment most of these people will ever experience and serves as a mental benchmark for what nature can be. It has the potential to inspire millions to be conservation advocates. With all its values and location close to the urban heart of eastern north America, it is imperative that Algonquin receives the best protective management possible.
It is our view that there needs to be a rigorous individual Environmental Assessment of the cumulative impacts of all park uses to improve the Ecological Integrity of the park (this would be consistent with the current law in Ontario governing parks). A new policy is needed to deal with the cottage issue conclusively to phase out cottage leases to improve the ecological integrity of the park.
Logging should also be phased out over time, substituting government subsidies to the forest industry for initiatives that would support other forms of employment in the surrounding communities.
Environmental Group Applauds ECO’s Call to End Logging in Algonquin Park (October 7, 2014)
Ontario Abandons Ecological Integrity in Algonquin? (December 12, 2012)