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Temagami's ancient forests are at risk!

The final plan for the next phase of logging in Temagami (2009-2019) has been released and is available for public inspection until April 2nd, 2009. 

Many key old growth areas are slated for logging and we need your voice to speak out for increased protection of Temagami's wilderness!  Please click here to access our Temagami fax action centre or alternately you can use our template letter by clicking here if you prefer to send in your comments by mail.  Please add your own comments to either the fax letter or our template letter to reflect your personal views before sending it to the Minister of Natural Resources. 



Background Information 

The Temagami region of northeastern Ontario is located about 400 km north of Toronto and encompasses close to 1 million hectares of land.  It is one of the most ecologically unique places in the province.  Temagami contains close to half of the world’s remaining old-growth red and white pine forests, which has made it a flashpoint for environmental activism for more than three decades. This type of forest is an endangered ecosystem, now existing on less than 1% of its pre-colonial range.

Temagami is also rich in history. For the last 6,000 years this area has been home for the Teme-Augama Anishnabai whose history and culture is interwoven with the land. They traveled the region on an extensive system of trails and canoe routes called Nastawgan. These routes, Temagami’s unique forests and vast sections of roadless wilderness make Temagami a popular canoeing destination for thousands of outdoor enthusiasts every year.  Logging activities have been present in the region since the late 1930s and continue to be a source of conflict today.

In 1989, Temagami became the focus of environmental activism. In response to plans to log Temagami’s old-growth red and white pine forests, environmentalists, First Nations, and other concerned citizens staged one of the largest peaceful blockades in Canadian history. The government of the day eventually put a moratorium on logging in Temagami until a comprehensive land-use planning system could be implemented. In 1996, the Temagami Land Use Plan was finalized; this plan protects roughly 50% of the region’s old-growth pine.

Logging Threatens Old Growth

The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has completed the planning for the next 10 year phase of logging in the region and many of the unprotected old-growth stands in remote wilderness areas are currently up for cutting. The MNR plans to log Owain Lake, the third largest old-growth white pine forest in North America known to contain regionally and locally rare species and the location of a 1996 Earthroots blockade; half of this forest has already been logged and the remaining portion must be permanently protected.  Earthroots believes that the last remaining great pine forests in Temagami must be preserved in their entirety. To continue to log this rare and endangered ecosystem is irresponsible.  The MNR must exclude all old growth from harvesting.

Temagami Recreational and Cultural Values

Apart from threatening Temagami’s old growth, logging also threatens ancient aboriginal sacred sites. Logging near Shish Kong Lake may cause permanent damage to Spirit Rock, a towering pillar of stone where Ojibway people have left offerings for centuries. Alex Mathias, an Anishnabai elder who lives on his traditional family land, is concerned that vibrations from nearby forest operations may cause structural damage to the site. Logging will also degrade the surrounding old-growth forest. Logging is also scheduled to take place near the Grandmother and Grandfather Rocks – two stone structures on the shores of Obabika Lake.

The current forest management plan for Temagami is also mandating the reduction of protection for recreational values. For example no-cut reserves around lakes, and viewscape protection will be reduced. This means that Temagami’s hikers, campers and paddlers will be more likely to see clearcuts while they are in the so-called wilderness. Considering people travel from all over the world to experience nature in Temagami, this is a serious problem.

Why Cut More When Mill Demand is Low?

Across the province lumber demand is at a historic low.  In fact, mills are closing down because there isn’t enough demand for forest products. There are a variety of reasons for this, such as international competition and the crash of the US housing market.  Earthroots is baffled that the government is considering cutting down more of Temagami’s ancient pine, when it can’t even be sure that anyone will want to buy it. Considering the current economic climate, the government should be applying the cautionary principle and reducing harvest level in ecologically distinct forests. Instead the Ministry of Natural Resources is planning on cutting down 52% more red and white pine in Temagami over the next 10 years!

Take Action Now!

The final plan for the next phase of logging in Temagami (2009-2019) has been released and is available for public inspection until April 2nd, 2009.

During the 30-day inspection period, any person can make a written request to the Director of Environmental Assessment and Approvals Branch, Ministry of the Environment (MOE), for an individual environmental assessment of specific proposed forest management activities in the forest management plan.  Earthroots will be submitting a request prior to the deadline given that the plan calls for cutting in ancient red and white pine stands, it threatens the viability of ecotourism, and provides no strategy for dealing with climate change.

Considering that old-growth red and white pine forests are endangered ecosystems, Earthroots will be asking the MOE to grant an Individual Environmental Assessment and ensure that the Temagami Forest Management Plan undergoes an extensive review before it is implemented.  Progressive changes must be made to the plan now in order to protect Temagami's ancient forests for the future. 

To view the posting on the Environmental Bill of Rights please visit  To review the final Temagami Forest Management Plan, please visit  

Help make sure these old-growth red and white pine forests get the protection they need and that this northern community moves toward a more sustainable future.  Please tell the Minister of Natural Resources that:

•    All logging of Temagami’s old-growth pine must cease.
•    Logging must be phased out of the western backcountry.
•    Sacred sites, like Spirit Rock, must be protected and buffered from all harvesting operations.
•    Recreational buffers and viewscapes must be maintained at their current levels.

Direct your comments to:

Honourable Donna Cansfield
Minister of Natural Resources
99 Wellesley Street West, Room 6630, Whitney Block
Toronto, ON
M7A 1W3
Fax: 416-325-5316
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


Alternately, feel free to use our template letter, which can be found at (the text can be modified to reflect your personal views):

Or you can use our free fax action centre at (the text can be modified to reflect your personal views):

For more information, please contact Earthroots Forest Campaigner, Mark Kear, at 416-599-0152 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..