CPAWS’ Response to Alberta’s Caribou Action Plan


CPAWS Welcomes new protected areas in Northern caribou reanges but seeks a more robust range plan for the Little Smoky and A La Peche caribou herds

EDMONTON – The Government of Alberta’s release of Alberta’s Caribou Action Plan is a step in the right direction to achieving self-sustaining caribou populations in Alberta. CPAWS welcomes the announcement of over 1.8 million hectares of permanent protection in four caribou ranges in northwestern Alberta.

“Alberta’s boreal caribou populations have been declining for decades and urgently need habitat protection and forest restoration to recover,” says Danielle Pendlebury, conservation planner with CPAWS Northern Alberta. “We applaud the Alberta Government for announcing permanent protection for the Chinchaga, Bistcho, Yates, and Caribou Mountain caribou ranges. This level of protection needs to be matched in all other caribou ranges, otherwise we face the real threat of losing caribou from Alberta in our lifetime.”

Permanent protected areas within caribou ranges are essential for creating refuges of undisturbed habitat for caribou and for ensuring that human footprint is kept to a minimum.

The Government of Alberta also released its draft range plan for the Little Smoky and A La Peche caribou herds. CPAWS Northern Alberta will review and provide comments on this draft plan within the 60 day review period. CPAWS will also hold several public information sessions on this plan and will use its recently-released report, Alberta's Caribou: A Guide to Range Planning (http://cpawsnab.org/campaigns/caribou), to guide the public in providing feedback.

CPAWS’ preliminary assessment of the draft plan sees some good habitat measures such as the restoration of all legacy seismic lines over the next five years, however the plan falls short of protecting the Little Smoky and A La Peche caribou ranges from ongoing disturbance from industrial activity. CPAWS expects any robust range plan to include a reduction in forest harvesting alongside a reduction in the disturbance caused by oil and gas extraction.

Alison Ronson, executive director of CPAWS Northern Alberta, states, “Alberta's boreal forest is highly disturbed by human impacts from forestry and oil and gas exploration and extraction. CPAWS expects all range plans to include immediate forest restoration measures coupled with a reduction in future disturbance from industrial activity. We also call on the government to establish legislated protected areas and timelines that clearly set out how habitat targets set by the Species At Risk Act will be met.”

CPAWS feels that the timelines set out in the range plan do not contain enough detail to demonstrate that 65% of the caribou ranges will be restored to undisturbed habitat.

“Our analysis shows that if we want to bring our caribou populations back from the brink, we will need dedicated forest restoration efforts and the adoption of sound conservation principles across the landscape,” Ronson says.

It is estimated that if business continues as usual in Alberta, our caribou will be lost from our landscape in 50 years. The province of Alberta has until October of 2017 to craft range plans for all herds that bring each range up to 65% undisturbed habitat.


For more information, please contact
CPAWS Northern Alberta
780-328-3780 x0

BACKGROUNDER

CPAWS Northern Alberta's Guides to Caribou Range Planning
CPAWS Northern Alberta recently released the document Alberta's Caribou: A Guide to Range Planning (volume 1, Northeastern Herds). This document is the first of its kind in Alberta and illustrates to the public the industrial activity and disturbance occurring on Alberta's landscape. It also illustrates areas of priority for forest restoration and the placement of protected areas. Volumes 2 (Little Smoky herd) and 3 (Northwestern Alberta herds) will be released in June, 2016. Copies of this document may be found at: http://cpawsnab.org/campaigns/caribou.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is Canada’s only nationwide charity dedicated solely to the protection of our public land and water and ensuring our parks are managed to protect the biodiversity within them. Over the last 50+ years, CPAWS has played a lead role in protecting over half a million square kilometres – an area bigger than the entire Yukon Territory. Our vision is to protect at least half of our public land and water so that future generations can experience Canada’s irreplaceable wilderness.

CPAWS has chapters in almost every province and territory across Canada, and two chapters here in Alberta – a Southern Alberta chapter located in Calgary and a Northern Alberta chapter located in Edmonton. As a collaborative organization, CPAWS works closely with government of all levels, industry representatives, and communities to manage our impact on a shared landscape. We also advocate for the creation of parks and protected areas for the benefit of both current and future generations of Canadians.