Protecting Peatlands in Ontario

Despite covering less than 3% of the earth’s surface, peatlands store more carbon than all of the planet’s forests combined. They are wetland ecosystems with waterlogged ground that accumulates carbon through the decay of dead plants, storing it for thousands of years – this is considerably longer than the carbon stored in forest soils, which remains secured for up to about 500 years. But unlike forest carbon, much of which exists in forest ecosystems that are the focus of conservation efforts worldwide, peatlands remain largely unprotected. As the second biggest peatland complex in the world, the Hudson Bay Lowland in Northern Ontario is home to many iconic plants and animals, but this area is under threat from climate change, deforestation, and industrial development.

Project Animals

Polar Bear

Polar bears are the largest land carnivores in the world. They have a number of adaptations that make them well-suited for life in the frigid north, including hollow hair and a 10 cm layer of blubber to help maintain their core body temperature during the harsh arctic winters. Polar bears rely largely on sea ice for feeding, but will make their way inland to den in snowbanks or frozen peat banks when they’re ready to reproduce.

Wood Frog

Wood frogs are found in shallow ponds and wetlands across North America. They belong to the “true frog” family, the most widely distributed frog family in the world with a member on every continent except Antarctica. They survive the cold by hibernating in the winter, spending weeks nearly frozen before emerging again in the spring. In northern Ontario’s peatlands, wood frogs are one of the few frog species that can reproduce in its relatively acidic waters, making this a critical breeding habitat for these amphibians.


Known for their massive antlers, caribou are unique in the deer family as they are its only species whose males and females will both grow them. They make their homes in the arctic tundra and boreal forest, where some herds will migrate hundreds of miles each winter in search of food. Caribou are skilled at navigating soggy peatland soils, and in northern Ontario this provides them with a distinct advantage over predators like wolves who are less adept in these ecosystems. Peatlands also are rich in the lichen that makes up much of the caribou’s winter diet.

Snowshoe Hare

Snowshoe hares have several adaptations that make them well-suited to life in the cold. Their wide hind feet act as snowshoes that help them walk on top of the snow, and their coat is three layers thick to protect them from the harsh winds and subzero temperatures they can experience. Their coat also changes seasonally to help them camouflage, from a ruddy brown in the summer to a bright white in the winter. They prefer habitats thick with shrubs and trees growing low to the ground that help protect them from predators, but are found across every province and territory and can make their homes in a variety of habitat types.

Help support the Ontario Peatlands Project by purchasing a Wildlife Adoption Kit today!

Meet the Team!

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Canada

Your adoption will help Earth Rangers support Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Canada as they work to advance policy and science actions that will help conserve and protect peatland ecosystems in northern Ontario. WCS Canada aims to achieve recognition of northern peatlands as a natural climate solution, highlighting its global importance as a carbon store that should be protected with the help of First Nations across the north. Given the continued threat of natural resource development and climate change, it is critical that we understand how these disturbances will affect the peatlands – and the people, plants, and animals that call them home – so we can better protect them for years to come.

Project Updates

Caption This: What is this Wood Frog Thinking?

We need your help! This animal is trying to tell us something but we can’t figure it out! Do you know what this wood frog is...

Turning into Frogsicles

We see lots of frogs in the spring and summer, but have you ever wondered what they do when the weather gets colder?...

It’s Wood Frog Week!

We’re all about wood frogs this week. Come back all week for frog crafts, games, facts and fun! First up, learn all about wood...

All project and site photos above provided by Lorna Harris.