Six hours north of Toronto lies the largest old growth red pine forest in the world and it’s under attack.
The preservation of Wolf Lake has been a topic of debate among the Ontario government, mining companies and preservationists trying to protect a forest that has remained relatively undisturbed for hundreds of years.
In 1999, the Ontario government committed to preserve the region’s ancient forest and created the Chiniguchi Waterway Provincial Park. Because of existing mining leases in the surrounding area, the government decided to classify that area a “Forest Reserve.” That status allowed for exploratory mining but prohibited logging.
“Typically what happens in those situations is when the mining leases come up for renewal, they aren’t renewed and the area is grandfathered into the rest of the park,” said Rob Nelson, member of the Save Wolf Lake Coalition.
In March of 2012, however, the mining leases were renewed for another 21 years leaving the surrounding area open to further exploratory mining, which could disturb the forest.
In June of 2012, the Sudbury Star reported that despite the leases being renewed, very little mining is actually occurring.
Naomi Grant, of the Wolf Lake Coalition, said extending the claim clearly runs counter to the ministry’s own guidelines.
“According to public records, very little activity has occurred on this lease for the past 30 years,” she said.
“Not only is this area not in production—it is not remotely close. Under our own legislation, this lease should not be renewed.”