New Study by Wildlands League: Logging Scars

Wildlands League is one of Canada’s pre-eminent conservation organizations and we continue to support their incredible efforts.

By collaborating with communities, governments, First Nations, scientists and progressive industry they protect nature and find solutions that work for the planet. They have a vision to protect at least half of Canada’s lands and waters so that future generations can experience Canada’s irreplaceable wilderness and as part of that they’ve embarked on an initiative called the Logging Scars study. 

As Canada wrestles with meeting its commitment under the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C, forest management has emerged as a complex aspect of the national carbon profile. This study makes an important contribution to this discussion by estimating the ongoing and legacy impacts of roads and roadside footprints from industrial logging for a large region of the boreal forest in Ontario. 

Below are some findings that we also think are paramount to the public interest and we invite you to visit their website for more information.


  • The total logging scar footprint, combining roads and landings, studied across 27 clearcuts, is substantial; it occupies, on average, 14.2% of the area logged (ranging from 10.2% to 23.7%).
  • Logging scars follow a highly consistent, spatial pattern of forest loss that results from Ontario’s practice of full-tree, clearcut logging.
  • Landings are typically barren 20-30 years after logging. The loss of forests at this point in the harvest is dramatic compared to adjacent renewing areas.
  • Twenty to thirty years after the clearcut, logging roads most commonly lack significant vegetation.
  • Bare aggregate surfaces or track-bare features with flanking grasses to thick alder shrubs are the common conditions found.
  • Little evidence was found that forest-loss ratios have improved over the past 30 years of full-tree logging in Ontario.
  • Tree waste is a primary cause of logging scars. The roadside footprint observed in the study is at least partly driven by unwanted aboveground tree volume dragged to the road. This includes impacts from the roadside accumulation and processing of full trees, and the various fates of the large volume of residual processing waste.