Planning the Far North in Ontario, Canada

An Examination of the “Far North Act, 2010”

By Christopher Wilkinson and Tyler Schulz, Office of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario

ABSTRACT: In 2011, the Government of Ontario, Canada enacted the Far North Act, 2010 to protect ecological systems and areas of cultural value in northern Ontario in an interconnected network of protected areas.  This law establishes that at least 225,000 square kilometres of northern Ontario, known as the Far North, will be protected through the creation of community based land use plans.  A central purpose of the Far North Act, 2010 is to create a significant role for First Nation communities in land use planning, which is cast as a joint responsibility with the Government of Ontario. The maintenance of biological diversity, ecological processes and ecological functions, including the storage and sequestration of carbon, are key objectives of this land use planning initiative. This law sets an ambitious target for protected areas coverage; once implemented, terrestrial protected area coverage will cover 26.5 per cent of the Province of Ontario, greatly exceeding the international Convention on Biological Diversity’s 2020 target of 17 per cent coverage for governments.

This article was published in Natural Areas Journal, Volume 32(3), pp. 310-999, 2012

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