While there are a number of
environmental and recreational concerns related to the expansion of the
road system and its impacts on the forest, many use the roads for motorized
recreation, and view the increasing road system as a benefit of forest
Roads fragment the ecosystem,
provide entry points for invasive species and affect local populations
of birds, mammals and plants.
In general, as more roads built
for timber harvest and general access in the remaining ‘remote’ areas of
the forest, the less ‘value’ it has as a remote wilderness area.
The construction of roads creates
more intrusions into areas of special significance for spiritual or cultural
Construction of new roads and
upgrading of old roads increases the potential to disturb essential wildlife
habitat –e.g. moose aquatic feeding areas, winter deer-yards, calving grounds,
heron rookeries, peregrine falcon breeding areas. With the proliferation
of ATV’s, and the increased development of all classes of roads, more remote
and wilderness areas are subject to human disturbance.
In 1987, there were 33,000 km
of logging roads in Ontario.
In 2000/2001, road maintenance
was carried out on 14,971 km of forest roads.
In 2000/2001 608 km of new forest
roads (primary and secondary roads) were constructed. In the same year
only 148 km of forest roads were abandoned.
In 2000/01 the forest access
road program, funded by MNR and Ministry of Northern Development and Mines
(MNDM), spent $5.5 Million on the reconstruction and maintenance of forest
access roads in northern Ontario.
A total of about 3,699 kilometers
of roads had access controls in 2000/01.
Outside of parks, there are
very few large road-less wilderness areas in Ontario. In 1998 there were
only 40 road-less areas larger than 200km sq. remaining in the half of
Ontario that allows forest management.