Two major conservation groups have uncovered more than 8,000 kilometres of logging roads, hidden from public view in Algonquin Provincial Park. CPAWS-Wildlands and Sierra Legal Defence Fund are announcing their findings after new parks legislation was announced in last week’s Speech from the Throne. The vast majority of the roads are used for logging, a use conservation groups say doesn’t belong in a park especially in the jewel of Ontario’s park system.
“Like a Hollywood set, the park’s lakes and forests hide the industrial zone over the next hill,” says Evan Ferrari, Director of Parks and Protected Areas for CPAWS Wildlands. “For every kilometre of canoe route in Algonquin Park there are more than four kilometres of road,” said Anastasia Lintner, lawyer for Sierra Legal.
The groups assert that roads, especially logging roads, within the park are creating major problems for wildlife. The roads not only drive away species that previously existed in abundance but also bring in new species that out-compete native plants and animals for the same habitat.
“Algonquin Park is promoted throughout the world as a major tourist attraction because it is perceived as a pristine wilderness area,” said Evan Ferrari, Director of Parks and Protected Areas for CPAWS Wildlands League. “With the government announcement this week, it’s time that the Ontario government actually protected Algonquin Park.”. Mr. Ferrari is concerned that the government might just leave Algonquin out of the Act, because of logging interests in the park.
“We are calling on government to include Algonquin Park in the new legislation. Excluding it would be a real mistake. We need to phase logging out of the park and we need to start right now,” says Ferrari.
Maps obtained by the groups through the province’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act reveal that few areas within the park are free of roads and nearly three quarters of the park is open to industrial logging activities.
In comparison to Algonquin Park’s 8,000 kilometres of roads, there are 5,300 kilometres of roads in the City of Toronto and less than 6,000 kilometres of roads connecting Halifax to Vancouver.