Thousand Islands - Frontenac Arch

Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve is situated in south-eastern Ontario at the intersection of terrestrial and riverine ecosystems, the Frontenac Arch and the Saint Lawrence River. The area comprises islands and islets of the Saint Lawrence River which are important stepping stones for the migration of plants and animals. This land bridge is known as Frontenac Arch which is important for habitat connection of the Algonquin and Adirondack Park regions.


Designation Date: November 2002
Surface Area: 2700km2
Administrative Division: Incorporated as a Not for Profit Organization.

Human Activities

The Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve’s mission is to encourage people to work together toward a more sustainable way of life.

Our vision is that the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve will be known by all who live and visit hereas a world-class model of successful, sustainable development. We will celebrate our natural, economic and human qualities and forge a new way of working, living and growing together. The Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve through a group of committed volunteers, organizations, governments and agencies operates as the Biosphere Network.

The Network works to stimulate all who live andvisit here to contribute to the sustainability of the region.  

Ecological Characteristics

The Frontenac Arch is the name given to an ancient ridge of granite that sweeps across the St. Lawrence River forminga corridor between the Canadian Shield and the Adirondack Mountains.

Where the ridge intersects the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, it forms the beautiful Thousand Islands. One can see the granite ridge in the rock faces along Highway 401.

First Nations call the Frontenac Arch the “backbone of the mother”—Mother Nature’s spinal column. At the crossroads of the Frontenac Arch and St. Lawrence River, five separate forest regions meet creating a great richness of plant, insect and animal species—making it the most biodiverse region in Canada, and a place of great beauty. It has a long and rich cultural heritage and served as the historic gateway through the St. Lawrence River to all of Canada.

The Frontenac Arch is a unique chorus of people, landscapes and living creatures.

Protection Classifications

  • Major ecosystem type: Temperate Needleleaf Forests and Woodlands
  • Major habitats & land cover types: Bras d‘Or Lake; Bras d‘Or Forests; Subwatersheds
  • Location (latitude & longitude):  Centroid: 45°53'12.992" N 60°42'13.608" W
  • Total area (ha): 356 588
  • Core area(s): 7 712
  • Buffer zone(s): 61 460
  • Transition area(s) 290 770
  • Different existing zonation: N/A
  • Altitudinal range (metres above sea level): +270 metres to – 280 metres relative to sea level

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