Researchers have found a 408-year-old tree amid a stretch of old-growth forest in Algonquin Park, situated in an unprotected zone open to logging, the Star has discovered.

The Historical Forest Exploration and Analysis group — a non-profit, charitable academic group — not too long ago made the discover west of Cayuga Lake.

Mike Henry, senior ecologist with the Ancient Forest Exploration and Research Group, tangles with the 408-year-old tree.
Mike Henry, senior ecologist with the Historical Forest Exploration and Analysis Group, tangles with the 408-year-old tree.  (Historical Forest Exploration and Analysis Group)

It additionally recognized three timber which might be greater than 300 years previous, and 5 which might be greater than 200 years previous, out of the 10 timber examined.

“Based mostly on mapping we’re fairly certain vital tracts of very previous forest have additionally been logged previously 10 years, or are presently being logged,” senior ecologist Mike Henry informed the Star. The group is now calling on the provincial authorities to safeguard the realm.

“We’re assured that there are various extra timber older than 200 years situated within the Cayuga Lake space” — and certain extra which might be twice that age, mentioned Peter Quinby, the analysis group’s founder who accomplished his doctorate on the College of Toronto finding out habitat and vegetation in Algonquin.

The hemlock situated final fall is estimated to be greater than 408 years previous, and “we are able to solely know the ages of the remaining timber by coring timber and counting rings,” Quinby added. “This must be achieved as quickly as potential. We now know that old-growth forests are carbon sinks — so by defending and restoring them, we may also help to take care of our local weather.”

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In Algonquin Park, roughly 24,000 hectares of old-growth forests are believed to be in zones open to logging. General, 65 per cent of the sprawling park in cottage nation, about three hours north of Toronto, is unprotected.

In 2000, beneath Progressive Conservative premier Mike Harris, the “Dwelling Legacy” initiative expanded and guarded parks, together with areas inside Algonquin.

Then, in 2014, the province’s environmental commissioner on the time, Gord Miller, really useful an finish to all logging in Algonquin, noting it was the one provincial park in Ontario the place it’s allowed.

Core samples from some of the Algonquin trees discovered by the Anicent Forest Exploration and Research.
Core samples from a number of the Algonquin timber found by the Anicent Forest Exploration and Analysis.  (Anicent Forest Exploration and Analysis)

In reality, Algonquin is believed to be simply one in every of two provincial parks in your entire nation the place logging happens.

The Ministry of Pure Sources “ought to convey the administration of the province’s flagship park into alignment with the vital function of provincial parks right this moment and afford Algonquin Park the identical stage of safety as the remainder of Ontario’s protected areas,” Miller wrote, including he “strongly urges (the ministry) to finish business logging in Algonquin Provincial Park.”

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Miller mentioned the Liberal authorities of the day “ought to stay as much as its dedication to the conservation of biodiversity by making certain that every one provincial parks and conservation reserves obtain applicable safety.”

The Algonquin Forestry Authority’s administration plan for the park will quickly be up to date for 2020-30, and a number of other teams might be urgent to develop protected zones.

Mike Henry records the height of a 235-year-old tree in Algonquin Park near Cayuga Lake.
Mike Henry information the peak of a 235-year-old tree in Algonquin Park close to Cayuga Lake.  (Mike Henry)

On the similar time, the Ontario authorities beneath Premier Doug Ford has begun consultations to “kick-start” the forestry business, given 51,000 job losses previously 10 years — though it has mentioned requirements won’t be watered down. A report is predicted this summer season or fall.

The traditional forest group says the 408-year-old tree is a part of 4 neighbouring old-growth forest tracts close to Cayuga Lake, totalling 1,845 hectares, about half of that are open to logging.

“It’s fairly uncommon,” mentioned Dave Pearce, forest conservation supervisor for environmental group CPAWS Wildlands League. “It’s vital previous development.”

His group has lobbied for a wind-down of logging, and says it may be achieved “with no loss to timber provide.”

Algonquin is a vital park as a result of previous timber retailer extra carbon than youthful forests, and are “extremely vital for biodiversity,” Pearce added.

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“A lot of species depending on old-growth have gotten extra uncommon as that sort of forest disappears.”

There are very few of these old, pristine forests in Ontario," Mike Henry said.
There are only a few of those previous, pristine forests in Ontario,” Mike Henry mentioned.  (Mike Henry)

Algonquin is “additional helpful” as a result of it could possibly be a thought of a refuge for hemlocks, which have been laborious hit in different areas by the woolly adelgid. The invasive pest just isn’t in Algonquin as but, probably due to the colder local weather.

Algonquin Park is well-managed when it comes to separating leisure use from logging actions, “however the entire premise of Algonquin being a park is a joke — parks are locations the place you don’t log,” Quinby mentioned.

Forests “are usually not only for reducing timber all the way down to get two-by-fours and plywood,” he mentioned, including that the standard strategy to forestry is to not let timber get any older than 100 to 150 years, when their development slows.

“We’d like laws that claims some ecosystems are endangered, and we should always defend them.”

Henry mentioned he has cored two hemlocks greater than 400 years previous — the one in Algonquin and one other outdoors Peterborough.

“There are only a few of those previous, pristine forests in Ontario,” he mentioned.

Kristin Rushowy is a Toronto-based reporter overlaying Ontario politics. Comply with her on Twitter: @krushowy

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