Alberta’s Plan Falls Short of Legal Requirements for Habitat Protection
CPAWS Northern Alberta response to Alberta’s Draft Caribou Range Plan.
For immediate release.
— Press Release December 19, 2017
EDMONTON – The Government of Alberta’s release of a Draft Plan for our 15 woodland caribou herds is a welcome expression of good intentions. However, after four decades of science-based calls for action from ENGOs and industry alike, CPAWS Northern Alberta is disappointed to see a plan that fails to meet the legal requirements for caribou recovery. The draft lacks detailed plans for each range, meaning that implementation is not possible, and necessary actions will be further delayed.
“Alberta’s caribou populations have been declining for decades and urgently need habitat protection and forest restoration to recover,” says Tara Russell, Program Director with CPAWS Northern Alberta. “We are pleased that after more than 5 years, the government has finally released a draft plan, and that it contains commitments to restoration and proposed conservation areas. But caribou need binding commitments of how, and where, we will achieve the necessary undisturbed boreal habitat, and how that intact habitat will be legally protected.”
In 2016, Alberta promised to protect 1.8 million hectares in the northwest as Wildland Provincial Parks. These areas do not overlap with forestry tenure, and the designation would not impact existing oil and gas leases. Most, though not all, of these areas are identified in the plan as potential conservation areas. “The permanent protection of these areas would bring four of the herds to near compliance with federal species-at-risk requirements for protection of critical habitat, as well as bring the province closer to its commitment to the international target of protecting 17% of land by 2020.” states Kecia Kerr, executive director of CPAWS Northern Alberta. “We urge the government not to delay action on this key piece for success while detailed plans are being developed for the entire province. Consultation and collaboration with local Indigenous groups should happen immediately to achieve protection that satisfies legal requirements and supports treaty rights.” CPAWS Northern Alberta is committed to continuing our collaborations with industry, Indigenous peoples, and government to finalize range plans that demonstrate how 65% of the caribou ranges will be restored to undisturbed habitat, and protected from further disturbance.
The lack of a clear path to protect and recover this species-at-risk is a disappointment and means it is time for the federal government to step in, before it is too late. We urge the provincial government to reach detailed plans by spring 2018.
For more information or media contacts:
Tara Russell, Program Director, CPAWS Northern Alberta
Phone: 780-328-3780 ext. 3
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.