Caribou and Forestry
Caribou is an iconic Canadian species and Albertans want to ensure steps are taken to help at-risk herds recover. Alberta’s caribou population and forest industry both need healthy forests in order to survive. With the long-term health of an important species and the future of the 50,000 Albertans that depend on forestry at stake, it is critically important that we get this right.
SPECIES AT RISK ACT (SARA)
SARA is federal legislation that deals with caribou and their habitat. Successful implementation of SARA requires a number of careful considerations:
Better Science The role of factors like climate change, mountain pine beetle, habitat quality, and predator/prey relationships needs to be better understood, and we need to ensure accurate counts of herd populations. Making decisions that put forests and jobs at risk without using the best available science would be irresponsible.
Flexibility Not all forests and not all caribou herds are the same. Requiring the same measures to be taken for each region and each herd does not make any sense.
Research Partnerships The forest sector is engaged in many research partnerships to better understand caribou behaviour and habitat needs and develop measures to maintain caribou on the landscape. We are committed to investing in these partnerships and working with government and research institutes to find the best solution.
A Multi-Species Approach What helps one species may harm another. Dealing with individual threatened species in isolation of each other is not pragmatic. To help maintain healthy, diverse forests for the benefit of all wildlife, we need to take a comprehensive approach.
Realistic Timelines The current timeline—to complete plans for all 15 of Alberta’s caribou herds by October 2017—is unrealistic. Consultation has only been completed for 2 of Alberta’s 15 caribou ranges. This process is too important to rush.
A Healthy Forest = Caribou + Jobs The forest sector needs to maintain healthy, diverse forests and to harvest and plant trees sustainably in order to keep working and employing people. Restricting access to the forest landbase means less forest management and fewer jobs. Caribou planning needs to take into account the long-term health of forests and forest communities.