THUNDER BAY – ENVIRONMENT – Ontario has made its largest ever investment of $29 million over four years to support the protection and conservation of boreal caribou and their habitat. The funding will aid on-the-ground restoration, protection, and other conservation activities, including monitoring, science, and research.
The investment is part of the Canada-Ontario Agreement for the Conservation of Caribou, Boreal Population in Ontario, which was finalized in 2022. This agreement recognizes the significance of the boreal caribou population for the biodiversity of Ontario’s boreal forests.
According to David Piccini, the Minister of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks, “Today’s historic investment demonstrates our government’s continued action towards protecting and conserving boreal caribou in Ontario, building on the important work we’ve done to date.”
Graydon Smith, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, adds that “Boreal caribou are an essential part of forest ecosystems across Canada and here in Northern Ontario, which is why we are making a substantial investment in on-the-ground stewardship. This funding shows Ontario’s commitment to safeguarding boreal caribou populations and supporting recovery efforts of this important species.”
Since 2018, Ontario has invested nearly $3 million in various programs and projects to protect and recover caribou. These initiatives include the Northern Mammal Ecology Program, a caribou translocation project, and the Species at Risk Stewardship Program. Lakehead University is among the funding recipients, receiving over $24,000 to lead a project to monitor the genetic health of boreal caribou through DNA analysis.
The conservation agreement with all partners aims to balance the protection and recovery of the species with the social and economic realities of Ontarians and industries in the north. Ontario has already begun to undertake boreal caribou monitoring and is working to improve its understanding of the current population, distribution status, and future trends of boreal caribou at a range-scale. This will aid in supporting recovery efforts such as habitat restoration activities.