What's New at AFER
Ontario's Old-Growth Forests: a guidebook complete with history, ecology, and maps
Go to www.oldgrowth.ca to visit the official webpage of the Ontario's old-growth forests book
Mapping Algonquin's old-growth forests
On December 8, 2006 the Ontario Parks Board produced the report Lightening the Ecological
Footprint of Logging In Algonquin Provincial Park , which was subsequently released in May
2007 to the public. This report makes a series of recommendations, the most notable of
which is to expand the protection zones to include 54% of the Park. This presents an historic
opportunity to protect some of the remaining pristine and old-growth forests that are currently
available for logging within the Recreation/Utilization Zone of the Park. To this end, we
conducted a mapping analysis of old-growth forest in Algonquin Park, which shows that less
than half of the old-growth forest in the Park is currently protected from logging. The Ontario
Parks Board recommendations would increase this level of protection for old-growth forests
to just over two thirds of the old growth remaining in the Park. In addition to leaving one third
of the Park’s old-growth forest available for logging (roughly 34,000 ha, an area half the size
of the city of Toronto), a number of large clusters of old-growth stands would be excluded
from the recommended new protected zones. Click here for the full report.
Blueberry Trail Maintenance
In autumn 2006 the Blueberry Trail system was cleared by a small volunteer crew. The old-growth trail, charcoal trail, and blueberry trail have all been cleared for their entire length, the first thorough maintenance work on the trails in several years.
The Cassels-Blueberry portage is in fairly good condition, and the Blueberry-Dalton portage has been cleared of major obstacles but still has some brush on it. Several portages around Blueberry Lake remain in poor condition. In particular, the trail to the north wetlands is relatively impassable, and the Tucker Lake trail is non-existent.
Re-visiting the Spanish River old-growth forest
The Rushbrook-Marion canoe area is a premier wilderness canoe area in old-growth pine forest, and it is virtually undiscovered. It is unlikely that you would see any other paddlers on this small chain of lakes surrounded by pristine old pine forest. Click here for details of how to visit this area. If you have paddled in this area, please send us trip reports
Algonquin Park Old-Growth Forest Report
Algonquin Park is home to extensive old-growth hemlock and yellow birch forest, where trees can reach over 400 years old. However, some old-growth forests in Algonquin Park are allocated for logging, while others have recently been logged. Our own work in the park found trees up to 375 years old with no protection from logging, while other researchers have found trees up to 387 years old in Algonquin Park that are unprotected.
Click here for more background about Algonquin Park forests and logging history. A report on old-growth forest in Algonquin Park is now online. Or read a press release about the report findings.
A huge trembling aspen
We've been finding champion-sized trees all over eastern Ontario.
A large-tooth aspen near Dickson Lake in Algonquin Park tops the current Ontario champion, weighing in at 74.3 cm in diameter and 28.5 metres in height.
A trembling aspen near Big Crow River in Algonquin Park is 105 cm across and 30.4 metres tall!
In Springwater forest we found a beech tree that is 107.5 cm diameter (DBH) and 35.5 metres in height. Springwater forest has many large beech trees, this may not be the biggest!
We're submitting these big trees to the Honour Roll of Ontario Trees
The Gordon Cosens Forest
In September we visited the Gordon Cosens forest, which borders on the eastern shores of the Missinaibi River south of Kapuskasing, and which has some of the last large expanses of pristine, unlogged boreal forest left in Ontario's claybelt region. Within the Gordon Cosens Forest, cedar, black spruce, balsam poplar, jack pine and other species reach exceptional sizes and ages for the boreal forest, with trees fairly commonly reaching 200 years old or more. Some of the eastern white cedar growing in remote and protected pockets may be over 300 years old.
However, like many old-growth stands in the boreal forest, several of these rare older stands within the Gordon Cosens forest remain unprotected. The concentration of old growth is particularly high in the southernmost portion of the GCF that is now a Tembec freehold. On the bright side, Tembec is managing the area according to the high standards of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and we can hope that it will recognize some of the most significant remaining old-growth patches in this forest and protect them.
We portaged through Algonquin Park's interior with ant-like tenacity, carrying not only our food and camping gear, but also forest sampling and photography equipment. It was well worth while! We found hemlock forests where the trees are over 300 years old, in Algonquin's management zone, where they could be logged.
During a trip through one of Algonquin Park's nature reserves, we stopped to count the
rings of a fallen hemlock log and found that it was over 390 years
old - probably much older since the tree had snapped about 5 metres
up the trunk, and a few years had rotted from the center.
We found white pines in Algonquin that were 39 metres tall, and still vigorous and growing. Will these be tomorrow's giants?
A white ash log in Springwater Forest had at least 230
annual growth rings - it seems likely that many trees in this forest
are 200 to 300 years old.
A black cherry in Dundas Valley was an impressive 36.4 metres tall.
In Peter's Woods we found a white oak tree that is 118 cm in diameter and 34.2 metres tall (measured with a clinometer and laser rangefinder) - that is over ten stories tall! White pines in this forest are at least 37 metres tall.
|Seeking Old-Growth Forests in Ontario for Inclusion in Guide Book|
We are seeking information on old-growth forests anywhere in Ontario, in any forest type. All areas that can be confirmed will be part of a database that will be available online. Exceptional areas will be included in a book about Ontario's old-growth forests. We are interested in:
- Less well known areas, either protected or unprotected, so that they can be documented.
- Research information collected from any of Ontario's old-growth forests, such as tree ages, sizes, rare plants or other features.
This is what we would like to know if possible:
- Name of area
- Exact location and directions to it, including GPS coordinates if possible (NAD 83 preferred)
- Forest type
- Size of old-growth forest
- Maximum ages and sizes of trees
- Other special features / description of forest
- A map of the forest if available
Include your name and a way to contact you. Please indicate if you would prefer not to be publicly acknowledged for you contribution. All submissions are welcome. Send email to email@example.com or by mail to Michael Henry, 633 Aylmer St. N. Peterborough Ontario, K9H 3X2.
Ontario Old-Growth Book Underway
AFER's most exciting new project is a book about Ontario's old-growth forests. This book will include a guide to over 70 old-growth sites across Ontario, and lots of information about old-growth ecology, history, and conservation. The book will cover Carolinian forest, white / red pine forest, northern hardwood / hemlock forest, boreal / other northern forests, and ancient cedar forests. It is the first book of its kind in Ontario.
Information and updates about this project are now online.
Temagami Old Growth Statistics and Maps Online
A quick analysis of the Temagami Management Area shows that it is made up of many kinds of old growth, only about a third of which is white and red pine. A table and maps of this old growth forest are now online. About 7% of the Temagami land area is forest over 140 years old, but much of the forest that is not dominated by pine may have some history of logging.
Ontario Old Tree Inventory Underway
The beginning of a list of Ontario's oldest trees is now online, and the results may surprise you!
We are still seeking examples of old trees of each species native to Ontario. We will publish the final list of Ontario's oldest trees on this website, and it will likely form part of an upcoming book on old-growth forests in Ontario. We are interested in currently living trees in Ontario, recently dead trees, and historic records of trees, which have been accurately aged using ring counts.
All submissions are welcome. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Michael Henry, 633 Aylmer St. N. Peterborough Ontario, K9H 3X2. Please include the following information if possible:
1) exact ring count
3) height if available
4) is the tree living?
5) location/ directions to tree/ UTM if possible (NAD 83)
6) your name and a way to contact you
|Analysis complete for first season of Marten project
This summer AFER continues its study of the habitat needs of American marten, a member of the weasel family that is thought to require mature or old growth forest for its survival. Because of its dependence on older forests we are using the marten as a focal species in wildlife corridor design. Our study area for 2003-2004 is the Rabbit Lake watershed.
We study the marten using a non-invasive technique known as track plates. Marten are drawn to the track plates by a bait (we use chicken), they cross a metal plate covered in black soot, and then sticky paper where they leave a footprint as they move toward the bait at the far end of the track plate. We surveyed marten in a total of ten sites over the first season including one site from each decade of historical logging from 1960 to the present, a mature conifer and a mature hardwood site, and three old-growth sites. Our results are summarized on our research page
| Track Box in Old Growth Forest|
Track Box in 1990's Logging
Trackbox in 1940's Logging
Hey - we got tracks!
|Blueberry Lake trail SAVED through good-will of logging company
The end of the Charcoal Trail. This forest burned in 1996 but the trees survived.
The Charcoal Trail at Blueberry Lake has been spared, after having been scheduled for logging this winter. Goulard Lumber voluntarily left a 10 hectare reserve around both the trail and the 1996 surface fire that was the central feature of this trail. The company had no legal obligation to do this, it was a very positive gesture of goodwill, and a recognition of the unique value of the surface fire for science and education. A small buffer between the surface fire and adjacent shelterwood logging will make it convenient to do long-term comparison studies between the two.
A surface fire is a forest fire that burned the understory while killing very few of the mature trees. This may be the only walking trail in Ontario that shows a recent surface fire in a pine forest. These fires were once very common in Temagami, but their occurence has been dramatically reduced by fire suppression.
Go to the Blueberry Lake Trail Guide for more information about this beautiful area.
|Huge Red Pine
We found a red pine on Obashkong Lake that came in at just over a metre in diametre. To put this in perspective, the largest red pine known in Ontario to date is 113 cm in diametre, found in Algonquin Park.
We also aged a small bonsai red pine on a rock island in Obashkong, a tree that is just a few metres tall, at over 180 years old. This shows that red pine can have the same "bonsai" phenomenon as white cedar.
Temagami Islands Project
The complete Lake Temagami Islands Report is now on-line as a PDF file (7 MB). A Short form (3 MB) with no appendices is also available.
The Lake Temagami Islands Project aimed to inventory and characterise the largest islands out of the over 1000 islands found on Lake Temagami. The islands are largely pristine, and are blanketed with old growth forest of varying ages, with trees up to 394 years old. Forest between 200-300 years old was common. We found that forest age was strongly linked to the amount of logs and snags in the forest, which provide invaluable wildlife habitat for many species.
|On Temagami Island we found the largest white pine we've ever seen in Temagami, 139 cm diameter (DBH). The tree is a standing dead snag.|
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Lake Temagami's Ancient Cedars
While conducting field work for the Temagami Islands Project, we found a dead eastern white cedar which had lived for over 500 years on the shore of an island of Lake Temagami. The cedar was less than 3 meters high. Several living cedars nearby appear to be about the same age. Another cedar on Temagami Island was only 13 cm in diameter, but had lived over 300 years. Since these old trees were found with only a small effort, it seems likely that there are even older cedars on the islands and shores of Lake Temagami
Many people have heard of the old cedars on the Niagara Escarpment, where the Cliff Ecology Group at Guelph has been studying these ancient trees. But most people don't know that cedars over 800 years old have also been found on islands on Lac Duparquet, north of Lake Temiskaming on the Quebec side. The distribution of cedars like these in central and northern Ontario is still largely unknown.
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