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Eastern Woodlands

From Ontario's Algonquin Provincial Park to the Atlantic shores of the Maritime Provinces, Canada's Eastern Woodlands carpet the ancient ridges of the southern Canadian Shield and the Appalachian Mountain range, and roll down onto the coastal plains of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Canada's Eastern Woodlands are the wilderness in our backyard -- a surprisingly wild network of forests. lakes and wetlands stretching from Algonquin Park in Ontario, to New York's Adirondack Mountains, to Canada's Maritimes.

Despite the heavy urban development in much of the Eastern Woodlands, a sturdy mix of native wildlife can still be found here: Algonquin Park supports a population of red wolves; lynx, and marten roam in the forests throughout the region; a population of caribou are hanging on in the Gaspé, and Atlantic salmon are still thriving in in the Restigouche and Miramichi Rivers of New Brunswick and in the rivers of the Gaspé Peninsula.  

Nova Scotia still contains long stretches of wilderness coastline and places with impressive old-growth Acadian forest.

However, Canada’s Eastern Woodlands are among the most threatened ecosystems on the continent because of their proximity to expanding cities and towns, and the resource-hungry industries they support.

The threat


Across the Eastern Woodlands, roads are pushing further and further into the wilderness, often for the ever expanding sprawl from our urban areas.  Houses are popping up along lakes and rivers throughout the region, pushing out wildlife and fragmenting the landscape. Residential and agricultural development is also draining the last remaining marshlands and deep grass fields that the threatened short-eared owl calls home.

Disappearing salmon

Atlantic salmon populations are dropping in most Eastern Woodland rivers.  Erosion in rivers caused by logging roads, clearcutting farming and development reduces the ability of salmon to spawn successfully, which means fewer young salmon survive.  The problems in rivers add to an increase in salmon dying as they migrate through the ocean, and salmon are in trouble.  . In 32 rivers in the Inner Bay of Fundy, the wild Atlantic salmon are already extirpated (locally extinct) or endangered.


Industrial forestry is removing the last remaining habitat for the Bicknell’s thrush, which only lives in the high elevation spruce and fir and low-lying coastal forests of the Eastern Woodlands in Canada and the U.S.  Over much of the region, only scattered remnants of old-growth remain. Yet logging continues in these habitats, critical for so many kinds of wildlife. New Brunswick’s Acadian Forest was once at least 50% old forest, but today only 4% is old-growth. In Nova Scotia, less than 17% of the province remains as intact forest.

What CPAWS is doing

Our goals:

  • Protect great wild spaces, creating 3,000 km2 of new protected areas by 2015
  • Connect critical wildlife corridors so large mammals like moose have room to roam
  • Protect wild Atlantic Salmon rivers


Two Countries One Forest (2C1F)
2C1Forest is a major Canadian-U.S. collaborative of conservation organizations, researchers, foundations and conservation-minded individuals. Our international community is focused on protection, conservation and restoration of forests and natural heritage from New York to Nova Scotia, across the Northern Appalachian/Acadian ecoregion.

Algonquin to Adirondacks (A2A) Conservation Association
A2A, the Algonquin to Adirondacks Conservation Association, is working to connect and improve habitat within the region that extends from Algonquin Park in Ontario to Adirondack Park in New York State, an area roughly the size of New Brunswick. The region connects Canada’s Boreal Forest with the Appalachian Mountains down to the State of Georgia. It is one of the most important area for connectivity east of the Rocky Mountains.

Take Action!


Gatineau Park: A threatened treasure (2008)
Natural Ecosystem Connectivity across the Chignecto Isthmus - Opportunities and Challenges (2005)

Assessment of the opportunities and challenges involved in conserving ‘ecosystem connectivity’ on the Chignecto isthmus, a narrow land bridge between the two Maritime
Provinces. Authors: Alexander MacDonald, Roberta Clowater.

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