Northern Ontario is thought for its rugged landscapes of dense black spruce forests, crystal clear lakes and rivers, and pristine wilderness areas. Nevertheless, industrial improvement is more and more fragmenting the northern panorama, inflicting roadless areas to say no quickly.

Solely 54 million acres of roadless land stay in Ontario, most of it within the far north. Roadless areas have immense ecological worth, however solely 7% of those are presently protected in Ontario. When figuring out new protected areas, we have to prioritize roadless areas.

This map illustrates the ecological worth of the Black Bay Peninsula and highlights the situation of the logging highway and mining areas © Ontario Nature 2023

A safety candidate

The Black Bay Peninsula is on Lake Superior, east of Thunder Bay. At 50,000 acres, it’s the largest contiguous roadless space south of the Trans-Canada Freeway. It is dwelling to a shocking array of pure magnificence and wildlife, in addition to an unlimited carbon reservoir that shops round 33,000,000 tons of carbon (equal to the greenhouse gasoline emissions of driving 400 billion kilometers).

Coastal dunes, black spruce forests and wetlands are discovered right here. The world additionally supplies habitat for moose, a whole lot of fowl species together with songbirds such because the olive flycatcher and palm warbler, and uncommon species such because the tiger beetle.

“The peninsula is stuffed with various habitats. The number of birds we counted in a single morning, together with the Olive Flycatcher and Little Sandpiper, was a terrific signal of thriving ecosystems.”

Kristen Setala, former neighborhood science assistant at Ontario Nature.

Least Sandpiper, Black Bay Peninsula © Kristen Setala

winter forest harvest

Winter harvesting has taken place on the Black Bay Peninsula for many years, after the moorland on the peninsula’s higher neck froze over. One of many benefits of winter harvesting is that the frozen floor and snowpack present a agency floor for working heavy forestry gear (akin to skidders) with out important harm to the bottom.

The specter of a year-round accessible forest highway

Since 1997, the hazard of an upgraded year-round entry highway has lurked over the Black Bay Peninsula. Nevertheless, native resistance to everlasting highway development has saved the peninsula roadless. At present, new proposals to construct the year-round entry highway threaten the peninsula’s ecological integrity by:

  • Launch of saved carbon emissions from wetland degradation
  • Change within the pure movement of water within the wetland
  • Rising disturbance of the encircling soils
  • Lack of distant wilderness qualities with elevated entry for all vehicular site visitors
  • Lack of cultural values ​​for Métis communities

Aerial view of the northern boreal forestBoreal forest © Vladimir Melnikov

Hold it highway clear

Nevertheless, there’s purpose to be optimistic about the way forward for the Black Bay Peninsula. Many teams within the space are working to guard the positioning from improvement and different threats, together with Ontario Nature. With continued help and advocacy from native companions, we’re working to make sure the Black Bay Peninsula stays road-free for generations to return.

Take a look at our story map to be taught extra about different protected areas in Ontario: Your Protected Locations

Your help makes the distinction. Please take into account making a donation to assist completely defend wildlife and areas all through Ontario.

Jenna Cardoso is Challenge Coordinator for Protected Locations at Ontario Nature. Born and raised in southern Ontario, she feels most at dwelling amongst sugar maple, beech and white pine.