Manitoba launches new Woodland Caribou Recovery Strategy, cooperating with aboriginal groups and forest products companies, including Tolko, to balance protection of Caribou with commercial interests, protecting areas that host large populations

WINNIPEG, Manitoba , April 30, 2014 (press release) – New Strategy will Co-ordinate with Peatland Stewardship Strategy: Minister Mackintosh

Manitoba has created a new Woodland Caribou Recovery Strategy to ensure sustainability of this sensitive and important animal that will include special consideration of its boreal habitat, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh announced today.

“Boreal caribou can co-exist with man and commercial activity as long as management decisions maintain the appropriate balance of use and habitat protection. We are working closely with our partners to protect both the environment on which the caribou depend, and the economy on which our northern citizens depend,” said Minister Mackintosh. “This cautious approach will ensure the health of the boreal caribou and of the northern economy.”

The Woodland Caribou Recovery Strategy released today incorporates new information to create a strategy that will guide the conservation of this important species in Manitoba, the minister said. Unlike the more common and migratory barren-ground caribou, boreal caribou depend on large tracts of healthy boreal forest for their survival.

Minister Mackintosh said the recovery strategy is a comprehensive 10-year plan that supports the ongoing conservation efforts. Boreal caribou were listed as threatened in Manitoba in 2006 under the Endangered Species Act. Boreal caribou can be affected by a variety of factors including:

  • habitat destruction or alteration from forest fires;
  • habitat fragmentation if roads, trails, transmission lines, logging operations or mineral exploration are not properly planned;
  • increased access for predators;
  • over-hunting; and
  • disease.
“Manitoba’s Woodland Caribou Recovery Strategy is undoubtedly the best of its kind in Canada. The unprecedented commitment to establish large caribou habitat areas that are exempt from forestry is good news for this threatened species and the well-being of our boreal forest,” said Ron Thiessen, executive director, Manitoba chapter, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. “We all need the boreal to be healthy as it is the world’s largest source of fresh water, the northern lungs of the planet and its massive carbon stores help to curb climate change.”

The strategy incorporates input from academia, Aboriginal communities, environmental non-government organizations, industry and the public. The public will have 60 days to comment on the strategy, the minister said, adding the strategy provides essential elements for caribou conservation.

“Manitoba’s recovery strategy is a comprehensive, 10-year plan that will help the government develop new actions to ensure boreal caribou thrive in Manitoba,” the minister said. “The province will ensure that management decisions balance the demand for boreal forest resource use with boreal caribou conservation. These actions plans will be created with input from Aboriginal peoples, industry, non-government organizations and other Manitobans.”

“Tolko Industries is committed to responsible and environmentally sustainable management of our forest tenures, much of which includes caribou habitat, and we’ve been involved in the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement right from the start,” said Bob Fleet, vice-president, forestry, environment and communications for Tolko Industries Ltd. “We welcome this strategy and the opportunity to work with the province on caribou recovery.”

“Hudbay continues to support Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship efforts to study woodland caribou distribution throughout west-central Manitoba and share that information with Hudbay for purposes of assessing impacts our exploration and mine development initiatives may have on the species. The collaborative nature of our relationship furthers our exploration and mining interests while supporting protection of important habitat for this threatened species,” said Brad Lantz, vice-president, Manitoba Business Unit, Hudbay Mineral.

“My community, Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, has a long and proud relationship with boreal caribou. It is our inherent right to protect and manage the boreal caribou and the boreal forest. We are pleased to work in partnership with Manitoba in these important efforts. The maintenance and management of the Wapisu herd is of critical importance to my community, and I look forward to our shared goal of protecting and promoting caribou in the region,” said Ron Spence, councillor of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, member of the Wapisu Caribou Committee and president of the Manitoba Trappers Association.

This strategy supports the implementation of TomorrowNow – Manitoba’s Green Plan, an eight-year plan that supports environmental protection while ensuring a prosperous and environmentally conscious economy.

To comment on the strategy, visit www.gov.mb.ca/conservation.

For more information on TomorrowNow, visit www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/tomorrownowgreenplan/.

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