Include Wolf Lake in the 30x30 Initiative!

May 25, 2023

Save Wolf Lake!

It has been evident for some time now that nature needs our help. During the COP15 conference in December of 2022, countries, including Canada, signed on to the 30x30 conservation target. This goal of protecting 30% of land and water by 2030 marks the largest land and ocean conservation commitment in history. We have known that humanity must do a better job at protecting key areas of our planet to ensure a more sustainable future. According to the IPCC, the destruction of vital ecosystems such as forests and wetlands has to stop in order to meet the 1.5 degree Celsius climate goal.

Wolf Lake is at the heart of the world’s largest old-growth red pine forest in North America. The surrounding forest contains pines between the ages of 140 and 300+ years old and borders crystal clear water and stunning quartzite cliffs. Many things make Wolf Lake and the surrounding forest unique, such as a high density of pine in the forests canopy, aged red pines, and dense pine regeneration (Henry, 2014).  Some of the oldest trees have been aged at 300+years old, many of which have survived at least 5 different forest fires. This is valuable from an ecological standpoint because old-growth pine forests maintain biodiversity at several classification levels, whereas younger forests do not. (Anand et al. 2013).

Wolf Lakes old-growth forest is a major ally in the fight against climate change. The forest stores vast amounts of sequestered atmospheric carbon and help cool the earth and because of its hundreds of years of growth and wide variety of biodiversity, the forest is more equipped to withstand climate impacts.

“The large size of the Wolf Lake Reserve increases its value for biological conservation, not simply through the link between size of areas and species diversity, but also because of implications for processes.” (Anand et al. 2013)

Wolf Lake by Rob Nelson

So why isn't Wolf Lake already protected...?

Wolf Lake is protected from logging but not from mining. In the early 2000s the Ontario government slated the forest reserve as a “park in waiting” that would come to be when old mining and mineral exploration leases expired on the land. In 2020 however, the Ontario government released a work permit which allowed for a new mining company to come into Wolf Lake and explore mining possibilities. This was done without public consultation and against a strong public will to have this area protected.

Wolf Lake by Rob Nelson

Let's include Wolf Lake in Canada's 30x30 initiative!

Red pine only grows naturally in North America and its range has gradually been reduced by logging, development and mining extraction and exploration – which is still going on to this day. There is too little of this natural beauty left, we cannot afford to lose more of it.

Earthroots, in collaboration with the Save Wolf Lake Coalition and First Nation representatives, are pushing our governments to make good on these lapsed promises of protection. In light of the worldwide 30 by 30 initiative for the global community to conserve 30 per cent of land and water by 2030, how fitting it would be for the Wolf Lake to be protected as a small but very important part of Canada’s 30 per cent. 

Some positive updates...

The Wolf Lake Coalition has been meeting withFirst Nation and government representatives to discuss the special values of Wolf Lake and explore ways forward that protect the forest and support Indigenous rights and stewardship. New collaborations and possibilities are giving new hope. We are hopeful to hear some more good news soon... stay tuned!

Anand, M., Leithead, M., Silva, L.C.R. et al. The scientific value of the largest remaining old-growth red pine forests in North America. Biodivers Conserv 22, 1847–1861 (2013).

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