The Old Growth Forest Project

The Old Growth Forest Project is a new and unique (as far as I know) initiative involving the Ignatius Jesuit Centre (here in Guelph), the Guelph International Resource Centre and the Ontario Farmland Trust.

I learned about this project from a friend and attended their launch party. There was quite a big turnout with people lining up into the street. I think far more attended than were expected.

The basic idea is that 40 hectares of land (around 100 acres), currently owned by the Jesuits, will be protected from development in perpetuity through a conservation easement. I bought a square metre for $20, which is matched by the Jesuits, so somewhere between Highway 6 and close to where the Marden Creek meets the Speed River there’s 2 square metres of land that will be left alone in forever in my daughter’s name. I feel I can certainly be proud of that. So out of 40 hectares that leaves 199,998 square metres to go although I know they sold quite a few when I was there.

Fr. Jim Profit of the Society of Jesus, Bill Barrett from GIRC (a friend from junior and high school), Melissa Watkins of the Ontario Farmland Trust and Jennifer Duggan (the administrator) spoke. I was impressed by their passion for this cause. As they say… many of the most ambitious projects of mankind take many generations as will this.  In 500 years we’ll have something special and I certainly want to be there to see it.  However I may be detained along the way.  I volunteered to help so you may hear more from me on this topic in the future.
I think this is a great idea and I hope it spreads to other communities!

They can be reached at:


519-824-1250 x224


Box 1238
Guelph, ON N1H 6N6

Of course there are locations in Ontario and in other parts of Canada and the world where old growth forest still exists.  When I did my M.Sc. in plant ecology out east one of my research sites was in a reputed ‘old growth forest’ near Mabou on Cape Breton Island.  But it can be difficult to prove such claims.  A forest remnant could be old growth and have young trees.  The expected period between hurricane and fire devastation in Nova Scotia is somewhere in the 300 year range.  And old growth may not be a forest after all.

Here are some interesting links:

  • Excellent site for seeing the biggest trees in Ontario
  • Good site for Ancient Forest Research

3 thoughts on “The Old Growth Forest Project”

  1. The Restoration Committee of which I was a member since the beginning has been disbanded recently. So that ends my involvement with the project. There have been a number of incidents of a definitely non-preservationist kind (including tree cutting) which have occurred on the site which have convinced me that this project is not being taken seriously by those in charge. I’m sorry to say that I do not recommend anyone supporting this until they get back into the appropriate spirit of things.

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