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Wildlife Corridor Studies

What are Wildlife Corridors and Why are They Important?

In 1996 AFER began working on wildlife corridors in Ontario and has since pioneered work on three wildlife corridors. The Superior-Temagami Corridor and the Temagami-Algonquin Corridor are entirely located within Ontario and the Algonquin to Adirondack (A2A) Corridor connects Ontario and New York State. These corridors, and other wildlife corridors, are critical for maintaining and restoring biodiversity and ecological integrity due to ever-increasing impacts of deforestation, climate warming, and habitat fragmentation, among many other impacts from human activity. Unfortunately, most protected areas are too small to maintain viable populations of sensitive and rare species, so by connecting protected areas with useable wildlife habitat (corridors), smaller protected areas become more sustainable when connected to other areas with natural habitat.

For example, a pack of grey wolves requires between 250 km2 to over 2,000 km2 of land, and black bears have a home range of about 150 km2. To maintain long-term populations of these species even the largest parks need to be linked to other wild areas. Relatively small inputs of genetic material into a population can dramatically increase population persistence and allow species to survive in reserves that would otherwise be too small when reserves are connected. Less obvious, but just as important as large mammals, are species groups such as plants or insects that also need habitat connectivity to enable functional adaptation to changing local conditions and for genetic exchange between populations.

Corridors that facilitate the movement of both plant and animal species will be critical to help ecosystems adjust to the changing global climate, which is causing species communities in North America to shift northward. For example, models predict that the southern edge of the Boreal Forest could shift as much as 500 km northward because of climate warming over the next century. Sadly, some species will become extirpated or extinct because they will be unable to migrate fast enough to match changing habitat conditions. Wildlife corridors also provide unparalleled opportunities to conduct scientific research, protect cultural heritage areas, and provide valuable recreational resources. They are often a mix of core areas, buffers, and modified management zones - the common theme is that they connect species populations and ecosystems.


  • AFER was the first to map wildlife habitat quality in the Algonquin-Frontenac Region of eastern Ontario using GIS and to identify the ideal (least-cost) path and high-quality habitat for wildlife movement in the Canadian portion of the Algonquin to Adirondack Wildlife (A2A) Corridor. This work helped to provide a foundation for the establishment of the A2A Collaborative (link), which is a federally incorporated NGO registered in Canada and the U.S. Its goal is to “connect lands and people across the Algonquin to Adirondacks region, [and] to enhance a critical link for biodiversity and resilience in eastern North America… [they] envision a resilient, ecologically interconnected landscape that sustains a full range of native wildlife and enhances people's quality of life for generations to come.”

  • We mapped ancient forest (unlogged) areas greater than 20,000 hectares in the Temagami Site Region of Ontario and proposed a route for the Superior-Temagami Wildlife Corridor based on these core areas.

  • AFER used GIS to identify and characterize the location of the Temagami-Algonquin Wildlife Corridor. Variables used to identify the Corridor included roads, utility corridors, lakes, rivers, streams, mature and old-growth forests, red and white pine stands, Crown land, human population density, and protected areas.



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