The Old-Growth Forests of Southern Ontario

The forests that covered southern Ontario before European settlement were a
patchwork of forest Environments in different stages of succession. They included large, unbroken tracts of mature forest, which we call old-growth,
as well as younger stands, meadows, prairies, savannas, wetlands and openings of various sizes.

When we think of the old-growth stands within this varied landscape, wesometimes imagine vast park-like expanses of old trees. However, the
old-growth forests in southern Ontario contained trees of all ages and sizes. These wild and diverse ecosystems also contained more tree and shrub
species than today’s forest and provided habitat for more and different forms of life, including several species that are now considered rare or endangered.

This Extension Note provides information on the characteristics of old-growth forests and the many species that depend on these features for survival.

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