Catchacoma Ancient Forest Landscape
The Catchacoma Forest is a threatened, unprotected public landscape buttressed against the NW portion of Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park at the north end of Catchacoma Lake in Catchacoma, Ontario. Despite being the largest known old-growth and mature eastern hemlock stand remaining in Canada with trees up to 375 yrs. old, it was logged in 2020, 2021 and is scheduled for more logging by the Bancroft Minden Forest Company per the new 10-yr forest management plan (2021-2030). It also contains many wetlands, streams, small and large lakes, and riparian ecosystems; and it is home to at least ten species-at-risk including the Algonquin wolf, Blandings turtle and cerulean warbler. It can easily be visited by people from the GTA and Peterborough being only 170 km and 50 km away, respectively. Watch our Wilderness Committee video here.
AFER conducted field studies in this forest in 2019, 2020 and 2021 with the help of a group of keen students from the Youth Leadership in Sustainability Program showing for example, that despite resistance from MNRF and the forest company, (1) this landscape is composed primarily of mature and old-growth eastern hemlock forest, (2) government data underestimates forest stand ages by as much as 58 years, and (3) the financial value of leaving the Catchacoma Forest unlogged is at least ten times greater than the financial value of the timber removed from the Forest. Only a sub-set (<half) of natural capital values were used for this study; consideration of additional natural capital values will increase the total financial value of the unlogged condition.
AFER and the Wilderness Committee have joined forces to create the Catchacoma Forest Stewardship Committee to develop an Ancient Forest Conservation Strategy for this special old-growth and mature forested landscape. The Committee also includes local stakeholders interested in protecting the non-timber values of this landscape including recreation, education, research, biodiversity and ecological integrity, carbon sequestration and storage, among others.