Help at-risk caribou persist in the Caribou Forest

Help at-risk caribou persist in the Caribou Forest

image of Help at-risk caribou persist in the Caribou Forest

Resolute Forest Products and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) are about to make decisions that will have significant bearing on the future of the caribou populations northwest of Thunder Bay. The Forest Management Plan for the Caribou Forest, one of three forests managed by Resolute within the Brightsand caribou range, as well as part of the Churchill caribou range, is due for renewal. Decisions made now will determine logging practices in the area for the next decade and beyond.

The Caribou Forest provides critical habitat within the Brightsand and Churchill caribou ranges, which according to government scientists ...

Resolute Forest Products and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) are about to make decisions that will have significant bearing on the future of the caribou populations northwest of Thunder Bay. The Forest Management Plan for the Caribou Forest, one of three forests managed by Resolute within the Brightsand caribou range, as well as part of the Churchill caribou range, is due for renewal. Decisions made now will determine logging practices in the area for the next decade and beyond.

The Caribou Forest provides critical habitat within the Brightsand and Churchill caribou ranges, which according to government scientists, are in decline.

Please join Ontario Nature in urging Resolute and the MNRF to ensure the 2019 Forest Management Plan for the Caribou Forest will stop the decline of boreal caribou and support caribou recovery.

According to scientists, cumulative disturbance – the combination of logging, fires and other disturbances that fragment habitat – is the main driver of boreal caribou decline. According to Environment Canada’s recovery strategy, boreal caribou require a minimum threshold of undisturbed habitat to persist on the landscape; that threshold is 65%. Any less puts caribou at considerable risk. Below this threshold, a caribou population has less than a 60% chance of persisting. The Brightsand range now has only 55% undisturbed habitat. The Churchill range has only 56% undisturbed.

Yet, industry is not required to manage the forest to meet the disturbance threshold and enable caribou recovery. Decisions currently being made as part of the Caribou Forest Management Planning process fall outside the protections that would normally be offered to at-risk species like boreal caribou under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act (ESA). This is because forestry is exempt from meeting ESA requirements to protect and recover threatened and endangered species. Between 2011-2015, more than 75,000 ha and 100,000 ha of new human-caused disturbance was permitted on the Brightsand and Churchill caribou ranges, respectively.

Further, as a result of decades of fire suppression, the Caribou Forest has more mature conifer stands than would normally be expected to occur under natural conditions. These short-sighted (mis)management decisions should not be exploited now to justify logging new patches of unfragmented habitat of populations of boreal caribou that are at-risk and in decline.

To reverse the trend of decline for boreal caribou on this forest, Ontario Nature is recommending the following be included in the Caribou Forest Management Plan:

1)    A commitment to fulfilling the Province’s promise in the Caribou Conservation Plan to make remaining unfragmented forest areas unavailable to industry until caribou populations are viable or self-sustaining, based on population size and trends.

2)    Plan harvests and forest regeneration at the range scale to ensure the reduction of cumulative disturbance to minimum levels recommended by Environment Canada’s recovery strategy.

3)    Permanently protect the Miniss Enhanced Management Area, found within the St. Raphael Signature Site located within the Caribou Forest.

4)    Plan to conduct controlled burns, when safe and if required, to regenerate a healthy forest ecosystem, as recommended by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario.

 

 

Photo credit: Bubba55 CC BY NC ND 2.0

+

Email Resolute Forest Products and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

With your help, we can demonstrate that Ontarians care deeply about species at risk and expect industry and government to take meaningful steps to secure a brighter future for these at-risk caribou ranges.


Sign the letter below to forest managers at Resolute Forest Products and Ministry Natural Resources and Forestry. Their decisions now will have a decisive impact on the survival and recovery of boreal caribou in this region.

 

Compose your email

Email Tips +

Please personalize your email and add any anecdotes you think will be impactful. 

Recaptcha requires verification