Ontario may see larger forest cuts in the future now that the Ministry of Natural Resources is pushing for clearcuts that mimic natural conditions.
The proposed regulation, more commonly referred to as fire simulation guidelines, is in some ways a return to old cutting practices. But unlike previous large clearcuts, the new regulations stress sensitivity to local wildlife.
Forest companies used to cut huge tracts of forest with the philosophy of clearing everything out, but in recent decades, the province moved to smaller, patchwork cuts. These smaller cuts were beneficial to moose, but did nothing for other species, including caribou, which suffered as moose prospered.
The new fire simulation guidelines would not permit any more trees for forest companies, but rather would only change how those cuts are distributed.
Environmental groups, however, are opposed to the plan, claiming the regulation could mean clearcuts of up to 4,000 hectares in size.
The Ministry of Environment has yet to approve the implementation of the fire simulation strategy, while the MNR produces more guidelines on the size of the clearcuts.