Boreal caribou are threatened by industrial activities that impact the boreal forest and in many areas caribou have become critically endangered. Without coordinated efforts across Canada to maintain habitat for boreal caribou, development will expand throughout the boreal forest and caribou will gradually be lost from most parts of the country.
Recognizing the need to help these majestic animals, Environment Canada is putting together a plan to conserve habitat for boreal caribou across Canada`s northern wilderness from British Columbia to Labrador.
Your comments can sway the direction of this plan. Currently open for public comment until February 22, 2012, the draft plan needs to be strengthened in order to ensure a bright future for boreal caribou and the habitat they depend on.
What is the boreal caribou recovery strategy?
The draft recovery strategy is a plan for managing the boreal forest in such a way that caribou are able to survive over the long term. The guiding principle of the strategy is that boreal caribou can survive with some loss of their forest habitat but the larger the amount of habitat destroyed, the less likely it is caribou will survive. Deciding how much habitat can be destroyed without compromising caribou survival is the most important decision in the recovery strategy. By setting rules for how much habitat can be destroyed, the recovery strategy will dictate how much of the boreal forest will remain intact over the long run for both caribou and people to enjoy.
What does the draft recovery strategy look like on the ground?
The draft recovery strategy splits boreal caribou populations into three categories indicated as green, blue and grey areas on the map below.
Based on the status of the populations and the level of existing habitat destruction, Environment Canada has proposed the following management strategies for each category.
Green – These are the healthiest populations and they must be maintained. No more than 35% of the habitat can be destroyed. Other than this limitation, there are no restrictions on development in these areas.
Blue – These populations need to be recovered. Further changes to the forest are permitted but the overall amount of boreal caribou habitat must increase over time through restoration of previously impacted habitat.
Grey – These are declining populations and they need to be stabilized. Further changes to the forest are permitted provided a plan is submitted and approved to stabilize the caribou population at their current numbers. Once a plan is in place, a maximum of 95% of their habitat can be destroyed.
What is the outcome for boreal caribou?
Boreal caribou can tolerate some loss of habitat and still survive over the long term. Based on this fact, the recovery strategy lays out a strong framework for conserving boreal caribou. However, the draft plan proposes that 35% of the boreal forest can be made unsuitable for boreal caribou over the next 50 years. This will give caribou a 60% chance of long-term survival. The Canadian Wildlife Federation thinks this is too low and we want you to let the Minister know that you want better odds for boreal caribou. Giving the caribou better odds by ensuring that more of the boreal forest is kept intact will maintain more habitat for the boreal caribou and other wildlife across Canada.
What is CWF doing?
The Canadian Wildlife Federation is working hard to protect the boreal caribou’s habitat. Working closely with industry and academics, CWF is developing a science-based, land use model to help Canadians and decision makers explore the trade-offs between wildlife conservation, industrial development and economic benefit in the western boreal forest. We are also financially supporting research on boreal caribou habitat use along with many other species at risk projects.
CWF will also be submitting our own comments and recommendations for the draft recovery strategy to help ensure a bright future for boreal caribou.
What can you do?
Show your support for the boreal caribou and ask Environment Canada to strengthen the draft recovery strategy. You can do this by simply filling out the form below to submit your comments and sign on to CWF’s key messages to Environment Canada.
If you have any questions about caribou, this draft recovery strategy or what it means, please contact CWF.