The Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act was introduced for First Reading in Ontario’s Legislative Assembly on October 25, 2005 and was proclaimed on September 4, 2007. The act prohibits commercial timber harvest in all provincial parks and conservation reserves with the exception of Algonquin Provincial Park, where logging would be permitted to continue as it has since prior to the park’s establishment in 1893.
At First Reading, the former Minister of Natural Resources stated that the Ontario Parks Board of Directors had been asked to provide advice about how to lighten the ecological footprint of logging in Algonquin Provincial Park. These recommendations were presented to the Minister December 8, 2006, and posted on the Environmental Registry for public information and comment May 2, 2007.
Based on feedback, the current Minister of Natural Resources asked the Algonquin Forestry Authority (AFA) Board and Ontario Parks Board in February, 2008, to work together to undertake focused consultation with the Algonquins of Ontario, the forest industry, and key stakeholder groups to develop joint recommendations that balance key interests for the Minister’s consideration.
The two boards submitted their joint proposal to the Minister of Natural Resources on September 15, 2009. The final map and area figures were submitted on October 26, 2009.
Their joint proposal recommendations include:
- Expanding the area within protection zones by approximately 98,000 hectares, to enhance protection for canoe routes, brook trout lakes and cultural heritage values
- Implementing best management practices that lessen the impact of roads and other forest operations, including continuation of the existing roads strategy
- Clarifying the forested areas available for logging by recommending the total area not available for logging include: areas zoned for protection; forested areas protected by park policy, such as buffer zones along waterways and portages, and non-forested areas such as lakes/rock barrens
- Suggestions for implementing the recommendations.