The Ecological Significance of Ontario's Temagami

August 30, 2023

The Temagami is located within a transition zone between the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence forest ecosystem and the Boreal forest ecosystem (Ovtsyn, 2014). Because of this, the Temagami region is home to a large amount of both deciduous and coniferous trees and a wide variety of plant and animal species. On top of the forest ecosystem, Lake Temagami is a large part of thriving lake ecosystems.

Red pine bark by Rob Nelson

The Temagami is home to rare old-growth red and white pine forests – an endangered ecosystem that remains1% of its former extent. The Temagami’s old-growth forests are one of our best climate allies. These ancient ecosystems have been around since before humans raised the earth’s temperature. They can retain more carbon and nitrogen than in forests of other age classes and help improve our air and water quality. Old-growth stands of red pine also help slow the spread of wildfires. With their tall trunks and high branches, they can survive the flames of wildfires and re-seed the ground once the fire has passed. As climate change continues to bring more heat and wildfires into Canada it has become more important to preserve these forests that will help combat weather extremes.

 The Temagami’s old-growth forests contains trees with diverse ages and heights within an area. This creates multi layered canopies and include fallen dead trees that provide an abundance of nutrients, water, and structure for growing trees. These fallen trees are also home to thousands of different microscopic organisms and a variety of lichen, moss, fern, and fungi species – which are a keystone species in the Temagami’s ecosystem. Over time, species have evolved and adapted to live in different canopy levels and coarse woody habitat, meaning that these forests are crucial for maintaining native species diversity in Ontario. As a result, old-growth forests can support more diverse species than younger forests.

Plant and animal species in the Temagami

The Temagami is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species. Endangered, elusive species such as the Eastern wolf and eastern cougar have been spotted within the area. The Aurora trout is a species of fish that can only be found in two small northern lakes in the Temagami. You can also find snapping, painted, and blanding’s turtles. Other animals that call the Temagami home include moose, bears, lynx, and species of birds such as the Bald Eagle, Osprey, and Loon. All these animals rely on the plants in the Temagami for survival.

Aurora Trout by Cory Trepanier

Unfortunately, these old-growth forests have been under threat for many years due to commercial logging, mining exploration, and human encroachment. These three threats lead to habitat loss and degradation which has significant, consistently negative effects on biodiversity ultimately, negatively impacting the planet and our lives.   

Temagami Interactive Field Study Guide, Danielle Ovtsyn., 2014

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