Journeys in ancient and old growth forests

History and Mission


logo-best-qualityAncient Forest Exploration & Research (AFER) was created by Dr. Peter Quinby and a small board of directors in 1992 as a non-profit, charitable organization to address the loss of Ontario’s ancient forest landscapes.

The concept of Ancient Forest Exploration & Research can be traced back to the Temagami Wilderness Society’s “Tall Pines Project” which began in 1988 and was directed by Dr. Peter Quinby until early 1991. The objective of the Tall Pines Project was to locate and study old-growth white and red pine forests, particularly in the Temagami region of Ontario.

In order to continue studies of ancient pine forests in Temagami following the closing of the Temagami Wilderness Society, the Ancient Forest Project was created as a program of the Algonquin Wildlands League in the spring of 1991. This project operated until January of 1992 when AFER was created, eventually becoming incorporated in March of 1992.

Since 1992 Ancient Forest Exploration and Research has been conducting research and educating the public about ancient forests. The goal is to increase our understanding of some of the last truly natural forest left in eastern North America. Between 1992-2002 AFER’s field work was assisted by Earthwatch volunteers, on 12 day research expeditions in the ancient forest.

Ancient Forest Exploration and Research is a research and education organization; it is not an advocacy group.


CRW_3533The mission of AFER is to carry out research and education programs that lead to the identification, description, application and protection of ancient (pristine) forested landscapes.

An ancient forested landscape is defined as the combination of ecosystem types that is found within a region dominated primarily by the forest condition and by the absence of logging, mining and hydroelectric activities. In addition to forest ecosystems, this includes lakes, streams, wetlands and non-forested terrestrial ecosystems.


The organization’s goals are:

  • to conduct research on the ecology and protection of ancient forested landscapes;
  • to provide grassroots conservation organizations with credible information for use in advocating for improved forest landscape protection policies;
  • to educate the public about ancient forested landscapes;
  • to provide support for students to carry out studies of ancient forested landscapes; and
  • to provide opportunities for members of the public to directly experience ancient forested landscapes through field courses, camps, student internships and other programs.