QUÉBEC CITY, April 5, 2016 / – Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks Laurent Lessard, Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change David Heurtel and Minister responsible for Native Affairs Geoffrey Kelley today released a Government action plan for woodland caribou habitat management.
“Maintaining woodland caribou in the boreal forest requires forest management that takes preservation of its habitat into account. The Government feels that protecting the woodland caribou requires a balanced approach taking into consideration the socioeconomic development of the regions concerned. This is a priority for us. As of today, we are implementing an action plan that focuses our protection efforts on key elements of the woodland caribou’s habitat and where our chances for safeguarding the species are greatest”, said Minister Lessard.
The two-phase action plan involves immediate implementation of measures to protect essential habitat components and development of a long-term woodland caribou habitat management strategy.
“Quebecers’ well-being and the economic prosperity of Québec as a whole depend on a great many ecological services that Nature provides. Climate change threatens our natural environment’s capacity to dispense these services. By diversifying our actions related to conservation and sustainable resource use in the territory, we will be able to maintain vast tracts of boreal forest, tracts that are conducive to meeting the woodland caribou’s requirements. Protecting our environment, more specifically the caribou’s habitat, is tantamount to taking out “Nature insurance” for our future and the future of our children. This is why we are going to work together to create a large protected area for caribou in the White Mountains (Montagnes Blanches) sector. Let’s do it for them!” added Minister Heurtel.
In Phase 1, concrete action will be taken quickly to implement the action plan. These measures will help maintain vast tracts for the caribou over much of its current range.
The measures announced today are:
- Establish a new northern limit, based on the scientific committee’s recommendations;
- Maintain 90% of forests intact;
- Create protected areas in the Broadback River Valley and the White Mountains;
- Preserve caribou habitats north of the northern limit for timber allocations;
- Adapt forest management planning;
- Increase monitoring to enhance the species’ protection;
- Make local communities and regional players aware of the species’ precarious status;
- Set up a pilot project for dismantling forest roads.
“My presence today reflects our Government’s commitment and desire to work in partnership with the Native communities to implement measures promoting woodland caribou habitat conservation, a priority I am pleased to see at the heart of our actions”, added Minister Kelley.
Phase 2 entails developing a long-term caribou habitat management strategy, based on detailed socioeconomic analyses, in collaboration with the key partners concerned: the Native communities, regional players, the university community and the forest industry. The goal of this approach is to arrive at a common understanding of the issues affecting the species. Phase 2 has four main thrusts:
- Socioeconomic impact monitoring;
- Other timber supply sources;
- Greater collaboration with the other provinces;
- Better population monitoring.
The woodland caribou was designated a vulnerable species in Québec in 2005 under the Act respecting threatened or vulnerable species. For some years now, Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs experts and members of the woodland caribou recovery team have conducted research on the species.