OLD GROWTH FORESTS - NATIVE SPECIES
By Cliff Wallis, Borealis Magazine, 1994
It is estimated that 95 percent of the original old-growth forest in the United States has been eliminated and the rest is rapidly disappearing.
No similar estimates exist for Canada but much is obvious without the need for scientific data. Precious little of the Carolinian Forest remains in southern Ontario. Most of the forest in the Maritimes has been cut-over at least once. And in western Canada, with recent allocations of northern boreal forests, less and less forest remains unscheduled for cutting.
Across Canada the near absence of policy that recognizes the importance of old-growth has led to confrontations such as Temagami in Ontario, the Stein Valley in B.C. and Hidden Creek in Alberta.
A significant number of species of wildlife depend on old-growth forests for survival. We are aware of dramatic examples such as the mountain woodland caribou that relies on old-growth forests in western Alberta, and the spotted owl in the U.S.
But so little is known about these forests that we can provide a list of species with the provision that it represents more about what we don't know that what we do know. What is certain is that a significant number of species depend on old™growth ecosystems and with out them, many will not survive.
Much more research is needed to determine which species are partially or wholely dependent on old-growth forest ecosystems. As old-growth forests disappear many species will decline and some may disappear.