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Image by Grant Durr


From 1989 to 1992, AFER focused its research on the old-growth pine forests in Temagami. Before the initiation of AFER and it’s predecessor, the Tall Pines Project (under Peter Quinby), not a single Ontario newspaper mentioned Ontario’s ancient or old-growth forests. Since then, more than 350 articles addressing Temagami’s ancient pine forests have appeared in over 35 Ontario newspapers. One of the first things Peter Quinby and the Tall Pines Project did was to develop a definition for old growth red and white pine forests.

Wolf Lake, Temagami

AFER is a member of the Wolf Lake Coalition. The Wolf Lake old-growth forest is the world’s largest contiguous ancient red pine forest.  It is 50 km northeast of Sudbury and is part of the Chiniguchi River Canoe Route.

The Wolf Lake area was first identified as being the largest contiguous area of old-growth red pine forest in Site Region 4E, a huge area encompassing much of the area in which red pine predominates in Ontario, in a report commissioned by the Ministry of Natural Resources. Several things make the Wolf Lake area unique including very high density of red pine in the canopy, uneven-aged red pine trees, and dense red pine regeneration. The older trees in this forest are around 300 years old.

In 2012 AFER executed a biodiversity inventory of the Wolf Lake Old-growth Forest that identified 210 species, including two bird species “At Risk” (special concern): the Canada Warbler and Common Nighthawk.

Temagami Sunset.jpg

Obabika Lake Old Growth

The single most intense forest protection battle, which changed the way old-growth forest was viewed across the Province of Ontario and potentially beyond, was fought over the proposed logging of the Obabika Lake Old-growth Pine Forest located in the central portion of the Temagami Region. It is widely accepted that the Obabika Forest is the largest old-growth white and red pine forest remaining in the world at ~6,000 acres. Its beauty and wild character also ranks among the most spectacular old-growth forests in Ontario.

The protests to protect the Forest resulted in 344 arrests on the Red Squirrel Road in 1989 including the
arrest of Bob Rae, who became Premier of Ontario a mere six months later. Because of the media attention,
public outcry, and a change of government, the Obabika Forest was eventually protected, and logging of
old-growth pine forests in the Temagami Region was dramatically slowed for almost a decade resulting in about half of Temagami’s old-growth pine forests receiving protection.

AFER conducted the first scientific studies to determine that this landscape was in fact an old-growth forest, that old-growth red and white pine forests are endangered ecosystems, and that the Obabika Forest is the
largest remaining of its type. AFER has also produced self-guiding educational materials for the Obabika
Forest and for the north end of Temagami Island in Lake Temagami.

Cassells-Rabbit Lakes Area

Most of the Temagami Region and its old-growth pine forests are found west of Highway 11. However,
there are also many significant old-growth red and white pine forests in the Cassels-Rabbit Lakes area,
located on the east side of Highway 11.

Some of these old-growth forests are protected as conservation reserves such as the White Bear Forest and
the Boulton Lake Forest, but many remain unprotected including the Blueberry Lake Forest and the Cassels Lake Narrows Forest. There are also numerous smaller lakes, many portages, and lots of campsites in this
part of Temagami. The White Bear Forest is the closest old-growth forest to downtown Temagami.


AFER has conducted many field studies in the eastern portion of Temagami, however, those with a unique focus relative to the west side of the Temagami Region are our studies of riparian ecology and American marten habitat. We have also produced self-guiding educational materials for the White Bear Forest and the Blueberry Forest.

Research Highlights

Significant findings from AFER's research in the Temagami region include: 

Location of the world’s largest known stand of old-growth white and red pine forest

(the Obabika Lake Stand)

Evidence that white pine in some stands regenerates successfully in the absence of catastrophic fire

Development of the first set of old-growth white and red pine forest definitions

Evidence that old-growth white pine ecosystems are extirpated in 29% of the jurisdictions in which they are found and endangered in the remaining 71%.

Forest Conservation Achievements

Some of the more significant forest conservation gains in Temagami following the inception of AFER's Tall Pines Project include:

The Ontario government abandoned plans to allow logging of the world's largest known old growth white pine forest (the Obabika Lake stand) which is now protected as part of a provincial park

In order to increase their knowledge on the subject, the Ontario government contracted numerous studies on old-growth forests

The Ontario government regulated against clearcutting of white pine forest in Temagami

The Ontario government temporarily protected seven old-growth pine sites in northeastern Ontario many of which are now fully protected

The Ontario government established the Wendaban Stewardship Authority to develop community-based forest planning in Temagami

The Ontario government established the Old-Growth Forest Conservation Strategy Initiative to develop old growth policy for Ontario

The Ontario Government has committed to protecting at least 65% of Temagami’s old growth white and red pine forest

The Ontario Government has produced a Conservation Strategy for Old-growth White and Red Pine Forests in Ontario

The Ontario government has produced a draft Conservation Strategy for Old-growth Forests


Research Reports

Wolf Lake Reserve Species Inventory 2012 

A Coarse-Level, Rapid Biodiversity Assessment of the Large Islands in Lake Temagami, Ontario (RR#27, 2002)

Determining the Average Width of the Riparian Zone in the Cassels-Rabbit Lakes Area of Temagami, Ontario    using Understory Indicator Species (RR#25, 2000)

Policy Justification for Protection of the Blueberry Lake Watershed, Temagami, Ontario (RR#21, 1999)

The Influence of Logs on Tree Regeneration in an Old-Growth White and Red Pine Forest In Temagami, Ontario (RR#20, 1999) 


Comparing Forest Resource Inventory Community Classification with Classification by Slope Position in Old-    Growth Pine Forests of Temagami, Ontario: Preliminary Results (RR#18, 1998)

Corridor Field Studies in the Rabbit Lake Area of the Superior-Temagami Corridor (RR#17 1997)

Field Methods for the Identification and Characterization of Wildland Conservation Corridors (RR#16, 1997)

Characteristics of Snags Used by the Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) in Old-Growth Red and Eastern White Pine Forests of Temagami, Ontario (RR#15, 1997)

First-Year Impacts of Shelterwood Logging on Plant Species Composition and Diversity in an Old-Growth Red  Pine-Eastern White Pine Forest (RR#11, 1997)

Restoring the Provincial Forest Ecosystem in Temagami, Ontario (RR#10, 1997)

The Owain Lake Old-Growth Forest as a Representative Ecosystem in the Temagami Region of Central Ontario (RR#09, 1996)

Temagami Region Rare Plant Guide (RR#07, 1996)

A 10,000-Year Vegetation History of the Temagami Region of Ontario with Special Emphasis on Eastern White Pine (RR#04, 1994)



Forest Baseline Reports

Evaluating Track Plate Independence and Bait Type for Detecting Marten in Temagami, Ontario (FLB#25, 2005. 


Habitat Use by American Marten in Temagami, Ontario: Preliminary Implications for the Marten Habitat Suitability Model and Management Guidelines (FLB#24, 2004)

Predicting Regeneration in White Pine Forests Using Forest Resource Inventory Maps and Topographic  Maps (FLB#23, 2003)

The Temagami-Algonquin Wildlife Corridor (FLB#22, 2002)


Lakes, Wetlands and Dissolved Organic Carbon in Stream Outlets of Small Northern Temperate        Watersheds (FLB#21, 2000)

Plant Species In The Riparian Zone At The East End Of Blueberry Lake, Temagami, Ontario: A Pilot Study (FLB#20, 1999)


The Blueberry Lake Candidate Natural Heritage Area, Temagami, Ontario (FLB#17, 1998)

The Conservation of Ancient Forest Landscapes as Addressed in the 1995 Temagami Comprehensive Plan      (FLB#09, 1995)


Influence of Logging, Stand Size, and Stand Shape on the Regeneration of Eastern White Pine in Old-Growth    Forests (FLB#05, 1994)

Definitions of Old-Growth Eastern White and Red Pine Forests for the Temagami Region of Ontario  (FLB#03, 1993)


White Pine Regeneration in Fragmented and Natural Old-Growth Pine Stands in Temagami, Ontario (FLB#01, 1993)

Preliminary Results Bulletins

Endangered Old-Growth Forests in Temagami, Ontario: Location, Amount and Protection (PRB#03, 2018)


Tall Pines Project

Self-replacement in old-growth white pine forests of Temagami, Ontario (1991)


Scale of Ecological Representation: A Case Study of Old-Growth Forest Conservation in Temagami, Ontario, Canada (2001)

Definitions of Old-Growth Red & White Pine Forests in Central Ontario (1991)

Expedition Reports


Canoe Tripping Potential in the Rabbit Lake Area: Draft (ER#02, 1996) 


Matabitchuan River-Rabbit Lake Reconnaissance Expedition: Draft (ER#01, 1996)

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