The Area: Boreal Forest Region

Ontario’s boreal forest is the largest forest region in Ontario and Canada. With an area of 50 million hectares, the boreal forest contains two-thirds of Ontario’s forest. It extends from the northern limits of the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence forest to the Hudson Bay Lowlands.

Coniferous (softwood) and mixed-wood forests dominate the Boreal region. The main conifer species are black and white spruce, jack pine, balsam fir, tamarack and eastern white cedar. The predominant deciduous (hardwood) species are poplar and white birch. The area is also home to many towering white and red pines.

This Natural area is at the edge of three major ecosystems: the boreal system, the eastern pine system, and the northern hardwood system. The result is an unusual and unique mixture of flora and fauna that represent qualities of all three systems. The result is a hotspot of bio-diversity within northwest Ontario.

Boreal forests are heavily influenced by natural disturbances. Although large, intense fires often burn across the landscape, boreal species have adapted to this. As part of their life cycle, species like jack pine and black spruce require this kind of disturbance to regenerate. New forests quickly grow after these disturbances, creating the natural pattern of even-aged, single species forests found in the boreal region. The boreal forest contains hundreds of species of plants such as ferns, mosses, fungi, shrubs and herbs.


  • predators such as black bears, wolves and lynx
  • large ungulates like moose and caribou
  • a myriad of birds ranging from the great owl to the tiny winter wren
  • many small mammals such as the pine marten, hare, red fox and porcupine
  • many species of sport fish that have provided excellent opportunities for tourism over the years