Federal Government Announces Boreal Caribou Protection

Caribou - Photo Courtesy J Schaefer

THUNDER BAY – “We welcome the momentum for protecting boreal caribou in Canada and will continue to work with all partners for the protection and recovery of this iconic species. Working together is essential to make a real difference in safeguarding this important natural and cultural heritage for our kids and grandkids. By doubling the amount of nature protected in Canada’s lands and oceans, our wildlife and communities will be better off,” says Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

The boreal caribou is an iconic species found throughout Canada’s boreal forest and in nine of our provinces and territories. For many Indigenous peoples, the species also has deep social and cultural significance. The boreal caribou is listed as threatened under the Species at Risk Act (SARA), and its protection and recovery are among Canada’s foremost conservation challenges that we all need to address together.

On Friday, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, announced the release of the second report on steps taken to protect critical habitat for boreal caribou as required under section 63 of SARA. There has been an increase in efforts to support boreal caribou conservation in Canada, driven by many parties including provincial and territorial governments. In recent months, we have seen increased commitments, investments, planning, and efforts on the ground to support the survival and recovery of the boreal caribou. However, gaps in the protection of the species’ critical habitat persist across the country, and more progress needs to be made.

Progress has been made in negotiating conservation agreements with provinces and territories to accelerate the development of range plans and undertake incremental recovery actions on the ground. A draft conservation agreement has been concluded with Saskatchewan advancing caribou conservation across the province. We continue to work with all implicated provinces and territories to support actions on the protection of boreal caribou and their habitat.

Over the past year, ECCC embarked upon a number of important initiatives under the SARA related to boreal caribou, demonstrating the Minister’s commitment to implementing the Act and recovering the species. One highlight of the proposed Critical Habitat Protection Order on federal lands is that it will provide protection of boreal caribou critical habitat in the Edéhzhíe Indigenous Protected Area with the Dehcho First Nations, which is more than 14,000 square kilometres of boreal forest and wetlands.

Recovering boreal caribou will require a new level of cooperation and collaboration in order to make meaningful progress. The historic investment in nature from Budget 2018 is bringing Canadians together to conserve nature, protecting our natural and cultural heritage for generations to come. As an example, through investment in multi-stakeholder groups, innovative approaches to caribou protection and recovery are being advanced. These groups, bringing together governments, Indigenous Peoples, industry and other stakeholders, aim to accelerate collaborative, on-the-ground action in key areas across Canada, aligning their work with relevant provincial recovery efforts, including range planning.

Quick facts

  • The boreal caribou was listed as a threatened species in 2003, and a SARA recovery strategy for the species was published in 2012.
  • Section 63 Reports are required under SARA when any part of the species’ critical habitat has not been protected and must be published for each 180-day period until protection is in place or is no longer identified as critical habitat.
  • In Budget 2018, the Government of Canada made a historic investment in nature with the Canada Nature Fund; a 1.35-billion-dollar investment in Canada’s landscapes and the biodiversity that they contain, including species such as boreal caribou.
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