Update on Boreal Caribou Protection: Good News and Bad
Update on Boreal Caribou Protection: Good News and Bad

Since our documentary Billion Dollar Caribou was broadcast in March 2013 some positive steps have been made towards protecting caribou in the Little Smoky range in Alberta-- the most disturbed habitat of any woodland caribou herd in Canada.

On Aug 12, 2013 the Alberta Government announced a halt to logging in a significant part of the Little Smoky caribou range for one year to permit a range plan to be developed for the area. The Federal Government's boreal caribou strategy, finalized in October 2012, mandates the provinces to develop range plans for the survival of woodland caribou.

The Alberta Government has agreed to stop selling mineral rights leases in this range (as of May 2, 2013), along with the A La Peche range which is right next door, until comprehensive habitat range plans are completed. The caribou in Little Smoky are still, however, only surviving because of an annual Alberta Government wolf cull. The Government of Alberta has not stopped logging activity in the area, which only has 5% intact caribou habitat remaining.

May 21st, 2013 was the third year anniversary of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. It was signed in 2010 by 21 major forestry companies and nine environmental organizations. The agreement was created with the goal of protecting species at risk in the boreal forest, especially the woodland caribou.

On this anniversary the environmental signatories have suspended further work with Resolute Forest Products in Quebec and Ontario until the company commits to scientifically defensible conservation plans that will allow caribou to continue to survive on the crown lands managed by Resolute. The company says that they cannot protect as much land as the environmentalists would like because of the economic consequences.

The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement has led to some progress, for example in Alberta the signatories have supported the establishment of the proposed Dillon River Wildland Park and the Gipsy-Gordon Wildland Park, as well as the Caribou Action Planning in the Athabasca and Cold Lake regions.