Work is currently underway on a variety of information and knowledge management projects that will provide tools and information such as topographic, land cover and geological mapping.
The information gained through these projects will be used to help make wise land use decisions as Ontario and First Nations work jointly on the development of community based land use plans. In addition, the information from these projects will support the preparation of the broad Far North Land Use Strategy which will provide tools and a framework for community based land use planning.
To learn about some of the results from these projects, visit our Information and Knowledge Management Products web page.
Climate Change in the Far North
Forests and peatlands in the Far North store the equivalent of 97 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, helping to reduce the effects of climate change. However, forests and peatlands will themselves be affected by changes in climate and industrial development. Two research projects, both in partnership with the University of Toronto, are developing models of how climate change may affect carbon storage.
The long-term goal of the projects is to develop estimates of present and future carbon in Far North forests and peatlands. The models developed, together with other data, will help predict how much carbon peatlands and forests can store in years to come.
Satellite Technology, Genetics, and Aboriginal Knowledge to Learn about Wildlife
A woodland caribou research project in the Far North complements the ministry’s ongoing research on this species, which is considered “threatened” under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act. Work will include oral surveys with First Nation communities, calf surveys and gathering data via satellite from collared caribou. The data gathered on population size and movement patterns will help caribou conservation to be considered in land use planning decisions.
Another project will gather genetic material from wolverine fur and scat to assess how Ontario’s wolverine population relies on immigration from Quebec and Manitoba. This information builds on the work of the Ontario Wolverine Project started in 2002 as a partnership between the Ministry, the Wolverine Foundation and the Wildlife Conservation Society. The information gained will aid in protecting this species, which is considered “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.
Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge will be central in developing a report on the status of lake sturgeon in the Far North. This collaborative effort between Mushkegowuk Environmental Research Centre and the Ministry of Natural Resources will gather information from Far North community members on the presence, range and spawning areas of sturgeon. The lake sturgeon is considered a species of “special concern” under the Endangered Species Act.
Learning about the Physical Land Base
Before the information and knowledge management projects began, much of the Far North had not been mapped at a level of detail that would support land use planning. Even those areas that had been mapped were last charted more than 30 years ago and at a scale where only major features can be seen.
This project, in partnership with Natural Resources Canada, has now produced more detailed maps for all of the Far North that show rivers, streams, lakes and existing infrastructure at a level of detail required for land use planning decisions. So far, this topographic mapping for the Far North is 90% complete.
Maps that show land cover (vegetation) and the terrain of the Far North, to assist in land use planning are also 40% complete. This kind of mapping helps identify wildlife habitat and other ecologically significant areas, and can be used to identify changes to the landscape over time, whether from natural or other disturbances.
Another mapping project, focusing on water sources and watersheds, will take advantage of new technology developed by NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The data will enable communities, planners and scientists to determine what and who is upstream and downstream for any location on the landscape.
Important Natural Areas
More than 50 locations in the Far North have already been recognized through past studies as particularly important natural areas. These locations have been identified for further research because of their unique concentrations of diverse landforms, species, and ecological conditions. This information, combined with First Nations knowledge of the land, will enhance our knowledge of the Far North.