Swath of boreal forest twice the size of Toronto to be protected in northern Ontario

The area is home to 100 lakes and 1,300 kilometres of rivers and streams

The largest private land conservation project in Canadian history is unfolding in northern Ontario.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada spent the last year negotiating the purchase of 1,450 square kilometres of the boreal forest near Hearst, Ont., from a pulp and paper company.

The company, Domtar, hasn’t harvested in the region for more than a decade and the land was attractive to the Nature Conservancy for its rich biodiversity.

The area is home to 100 lakes, 1,300 kilometres of rivers and streams and is a critical habitat for many of Canada’s most iconic species including black bears, wolves, moose and the endangered woodland caribou.

It is also a massive natural carbon sink, storing the equivalent of the lifetime emissions from three million vehicles.

The Nature Conservancy is now working on a property management plan to determine access to the wildlands for outdoor recreational use, but the conservation designation means no industrial development can take place on the site.

Banner image: The Boreal Wildlands project located near Hearst, Ont. is shown in a handout photo. The largest private land conservation project in Canadian history is unfolding in northern Ontario.THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Nature Conservancy of Canada

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2022.

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