Wildlands League

Wildlands League is a not-for-profit charity that has been working in the public interest to protect public lands and resources in Ontario since 1968, beginning with a campaign to protect Algonquin Park from development. We have extensive knowledge of land use in Ontario and a history of working with governments (provincial, federal, Aboriginal and municipal), communities, scientists, the public and resource industries on progressive conservation initiatives. We have specific experience with impacts of industrial development on boreal forests and wildlife that depend on them, as well as dedicated protected areas establishment and management expertise.

youth, paddling, Rouge Beach ParkOur Impact Why We Exist

Vital Signs 2014 report highlighted the urban forest provides Toronto Residents with over $80 million worth of environmental benefits and cost savings per year. This is why our work and Ontario's wilderness are so important.

Wildlands League has protected over 10 million hectares of public land in Ontario since its inception in 1968 through the creation of new parks and protected areas, and land withdrawals from development. Some of our successes include:

  • 2006, worked with the government to achieve a new Provincial Parks and Conservation Areas Act (PPCRA) This new legislation enshrined ecological integrity (EI) as the overriding principle for protected areas. This was a monumental achievement and certainly a quantum leap forward from the old legislation. 

  • 2007, worked with the government to achieve a new Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

  • 2008, Wildlands League with First Nations stop unwanted mineral exploration and staking from occurring in traditional territory of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug with 2.6 million hectares of land withdrawn from development activiites.

  • 2009, worked with the government to achieve a New Mining Act introducing a permitting regime for mining exploration and an innovative dispute resolution mechanism.
  • 2010, worked with the government to achieve the Far North Act, enshrines principle of First nation approved land use plan prior to development, sets a target for protecting half the Far North with First Nations, acknowledges global significance of carbon stores in wetlands. This Act covers over 45 million hectares of Ontario and is the first legislation of it's kind in Canada.
  • 2013, Province guts ESA with sweeping exemptions for majore industries. Wildlands League and Ontario Nature sue the government to defend ESA.
  • 2015, Divisional Court upholds provincial regulation that exempts major industry.
  • 2016, Wildlands League and Ontario Nature's appeal of Divisional Court ruling is heard by Ontario Court of Appeal.

Family paddling the Rouge RiverOur Story What We Do

We don’t just talk about an area or an issue. We get to know it inside and out. We understand the players, the pressure points and make sure our contributions add value. We are a small yet highly effective charity that brings scientific rigor, credibility and creative solutions forward. And we help connect people with nature through local polar bear swims and paddles in the Rouge.

  • We often work in coalition efforts, creating a broad base of support for conservation campaigns and reaching diverse communities.
  • We support people and their dreams for wilderness; we engage them and create space for their voices to be heard.

Thousands invest in our legacy of wild places.

We also understand the technical aspects of issues. To build a solution that is good for the environment it must also work for society and for our collective good in the economy. That is why we have in house expertise in forest management planning, harvest level analysis, planning and energy production. And where we need additional expertise, we are fortunate in being able to attract expertise from across North America on issues as diverse as mercury mobilization, caribou, wolverine, climate change and more.We find positive reasonable solutions to seemingly intractable conservation challenges. Where others might be stymied by diametrically opposed objectives, we seem to find, or create, the sweet spot.

Visiting Noront Mining in the Ring of FireOur Programs How We Do It

Rouge Park

With 7 million people living within a one hour drive of the Rouge Valley, it is imperative that the protection of ecosystem health is prioritized in Bill C-40 The Rouge National Urban Park Act and subsequent management plan to ensure this remarkable natural area and its wildlife are enjoyed by generations to come.We also find new and creative ways to engage urban youth in nature so we will have future leaders in conservation. Two years ago we took 25 youth camping for a week in Rouge Park to learn leadership skills.This year we have 50 urban youth registered for a 'Learn to Paddle' at Rouge Beach Park. This has quadrupled from our first 'Learn to Paddle' last year.

Algonquin Park

In 1968 a group of Ontarians concerned about the health of Algonquin Park got together and formed the Algonquin Wildlands League (legal name now - Wildlands League) with the goal of getting logging removed from the Park.  We are still working to get this done. Algonquin contains the highest concentration of self sustaining trout lakes in the world and it anchors the southern range of many of Ontario’s large mammal species like moose, wolves, black bear and marten. It forms the headwaters for 4 major rivers and sustains remnants of the original forest that covered all of central Ontario. Its beauty and wildlife are world renowned.


Province-wide, Ontario has already lost 40-50% of its historic boreal caribou distribution. And local caribou populations here are facing high-risk situations. If conservation measures are not built into new development plans, then Ontario’s caribou could face the same fate as those in other provinces like Alberta, where continuing industrial development pressures threaten to wipe out herds entirely.

Protecting the habitat of boreal caribou means the Boreal Forest ecosystem as a whole would benefit including other species that rely on healthy, intact forests for their survival such as wolverine and interior songbirds.

Ring of Fire

The Ring of Fire is the name given to a new arc shaped mining district in the heart of Ontario’s Far North. Located approximately 500 km NE of Thunder Bay, it’s been lauded for its potential in terms of chromite deposits and other industrial metals.

What is less well appreciated is that the Ring is located in the heart of an irreplaceable environmental treasure. This wilderness of trees, wetlands, lakes and rivers is part of the planet’s largest intact forest. It supports hundreds of plant, mammal and fish species, most in decline elsewhere, and is the continent’s main nesting area for nearly 200 migratory birds. For some species, it’s the last refuge. As one of the world’s largest storehouses of carbon, it helps keep climate change in check.  It stores more fresh water in its lakes and wetlands than any other terrestrial system on Earth, and contains six of 12 of North America’s most important rivers.

Over 24,000 First Nations people scattered in 34 small communities call these their ancestral lands. They depend on wild fish and animals for food and have inherent rights to the land.

Endangered Species

When Ontario’s new Endangered Species Act was ushered in in 2007, we applauded it as the gold standard in North America. It’s something we worked really hard on. Protecting endangered species and their habitat is part of our core mandate at CPAWS Wildlands League.

Just six short years later, it turned out that the law to protect endangered species in Ontario was in just as much jeopardy as the species it is designed to protect. That’s when the Ontario government gutted the ESA with sweeping exemptions for major industries. When a government turns its back on its own legislation and on its endangered and threatened species, is when you can count on CPAWS Wildlands League to stand up for species that don’t have a voice.

Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

The future for boreal woodland caribou in Ontario and across Canada is uncertain. Without effective habitat conservation and recovery measures, many of Canada’s caribou populations are in peril. We need to be proactive and stop the expansion of industrial disturbances in their ranges and initiate recovery activities. And until more is known about how to manage successfully the industrial footprint the line should be held on the northern expansion of disturbance into new intact areas.

The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement is between forward thinking forestry companies and environmental groups looking to find proactive solutions that are good for the environment and the economy.

What You Can Do

You can volunteer! We are looking for volunteer amassadors to help with table events to help spread the goodworks of Wildlands League. 

Do you have a skill set, knowledge or know people committed to supporting conservation? Apply to be a part of our Board of Directors.

Sign up for our listserv. We only send it out when it is something important.

Donate to our work in general or to a specific project.

Please visit www.wildlandsleague.org and follow the links to do any of the above!


Nicole Thouard
Development Director
416.971.9453 x41
Charitable Number: 118782317RR0001

Finance & Governance

Annual Operating Budget: 
$ 1,359,366


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