Access and Roads

Once constructed, new roads can open up forested wilderness areas to further resource development or extraction (hydro developments, mineral exploration and mining), fur harvest, hunting and fishing. These activities can provide both short and long term economic benefits, however they can also result in environmental and ecological impacts.
  • 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 expression.
  • 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. 
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 management activities:
  • Roads create opportunities to develop and sustain eco-tourism and resource based tourism businesses. The construction or upgrade of a road provides opportunities for cultural and eco-tourism.
  • Roads provide access to Crown lands and provide more opportunities for wilderness hunting and fishing experiences.
  • Closure of new roads to the public may create the perception that some sectors have exclusive rights to use roads.

  • Roads in your forest management plan

  • 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.

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