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The Carolinian forest is a life zone in eastern North America characterized primarily by a predominance of deciduous, or broad-leaf trees. The term "Carolinian forest" is used primarily in Canada. Various terms, including "eastern deciduous forest" or "eastern woodlands" are used in the United States.
This region is the northern continuation of the deciduous forest region of the eastern United States which extends south to the Carolinas. Besides its southern location, the climate of this area is also moderated by the nearby Great Lakes, so it is able to support animal and plant species usually not found in other parts of Canada. Because the major population centres of Ontario are located nearby, there has been significant loss of wetlands and forested areas to urban areas and farms.
The greatest extent of coverage is from the Carolinas, the Virginias, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, parts of New York state, southern New England while covering much less area in parts of southern Michigan, Indiana, western Ohio in the United States. Its northern limit in Southern Ontario, Canada, in the fertile ecozone of the Mixedwood Plains and includes ecodistricts 7E-1 to 7E-6.
Trees such as various species of ash, birch, chestnut, hickory, oak, and walnut are found here. Tallest of all is the tulip tree. Fruit trees native to this zone include the pawpaw. Raccoons and possums to the relatively rare southern flying squirrel, as well as nuthatches and chickadees also favour Carolinian forests.
It is estimated that 90 per cent of Canada's Carolinian forest has already been destroyed. The remaining portions, mostly scattered and disconnected, continue to be threatened by human development. One of the best preserved areas of Canada's Carolinian forest is located at Rondeau Provincial Park near Morpeth, Ontario and the Niagara Glen Nature Reserve near Niagara Falls, Ontario.