Since its establishment in 1893, Algonquin Provincial Park has become an integral part of Ontario’s natural heritage and cultural identity; hosting over 800,000 visitors every year. It is the oldest provincial park in Ontario and since its inception, Algonquin Park is now over twice its original size, spanning over 7,600 square kilometres. Perhaps most importantly, the park contains a rich and abundant biological diversity who’s protection is becoming increasingly imperative given the growing threats facing Ontario’s biodiversity.
A well-studied established and principle of ecological integrity is that of ecosystem fragmentation. Discontinuities or disturbances that interrupt a forest landscape limit or change the movement, propagate dispersal and gene flow of species and overall, alter the structure and function of larger ecosystem patches. Fragmentation is definitely the greatest challenge facing the natural forest ecosystem of Algonquin and unfortunately, what many don’t know is that the historical park is far from safe from these threats.
While 31% of Algonquin Provincial Park is currently protected, the bulk of remaining lands (65%) form a matrix in which the protected zones are embedded. This matrix is classified as a zone called “Recreation/Utilization” in which forestry operations are permitted and governed by the Algonquin forest management plan (what? they log in Algonquin Park?.... yes, they do).
The Algonquin Forest Management Plan 2021-2031
In the non-protected areas of the park, harvesting is done by the Algonquin Forest Authority and regulated by ten year forest management plans. The government is currently in the midst of finalizing their plans for the 2021-2031 period. Earthroots recently submitted comments to Stage 3 of the Algonquin forest management plan. Our comments were focused on the need to maintain an ecological corridor between the two large parcels of the Park that are protected from logging activity. The submission is below:
Earthroots submission to the consultation process of Stage Three of the Algonquin Forest Management Plan - Here is the review of the proposed operations
Although our belief at Earthroots is that Parks should not under any circumstance be used for forestry, the Ontario government is already moving ahead with their forest management plan. We need to make sure that in doing so, they prioritize the ecological integrity, recreation and cultural heritage of the historical landscape over and above all else.
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