Following the Government of Quebec's failure, the federal government begins consultations on an emergency order to protect caribou

19.06.24 22:11 Uhr

GATINEAU, QC, June 19, 2024 /CNW/ - The Boreal Caribou—also known as the Forest-Dwelling Caribou in Quebec—is an iconic species for Canadians and plays a significant role in the culture and history of Indigenous peoples. The species is found only in Canada, and responsibility for its long-term survival and recovery is shared by federal, provincial, and territorial governments.

Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced that the Government of Canada is initiating the process of making an emergency order to protect the habitat of the three most at-risk Boreal Caribou populations in Canada: the Val-d'Or, Charlevoix, and Pipmuacan populations.

In the coming weeks, the Government of Canada will consult with the Government of Quebec, Quebec's Indigenous communities, the public, and stakeholders and interested parties, including local communities and industries, on the boundaries of potential protection areas and the scope of proposed prohibitions that would apply within them. Following these consultations, the drafting of the order will be finalized. Once in place, the order will protect targeted areas of the best available habitat for these three Boreal Caribou populations by prohibiting activities such as logging and road network expansions.

Originally promised in 2016, the tabling of Quebec's strategy for protecting Boreal and Mountain Caribou has been postponed many times. In August 2022, the Government of Quebec recommitted to publishing a comprehensive strategy by June 2023 and to implementing measures to reduce the disturbance rate of undisturbed habitat to 65 percent within the range of each population. Although the Government of Quebec recently presented pilot projects for the Charlevoix and Gaspésie populations, no comprehensive strategy has been announced, and the species faces imminent threats to its recovery.

Quotes

"The federal government is committed to protecting our country's biodiversity and halting the degradation of our natural heritage. The caribou is an iconic animal of Canada. We pursued a collaborative approach, waited for Quebec to table a comprehensive strategy, and it was repeatedly postponed. In the absence of a strategy in place, and faced with the imminent threat to these populations, we have a responsibility to act to ensure the recovery and sustainability of caribou. The Government of Canada remains open to collaborating with and supporting the Government of Quebec in implementing measures to ensure the recovery of this species as part of a global strategy, as well as for the support of local communities."

– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Quick facts
  • The Boreal Caribou has been listed as a "threatened" species since 2003 under Canada'sSpecies at Risk Act (SARA) and as a "vulnerable" species since 2005 under Quebec's Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species.
  • On May 10, 2024, based on an imminent threat assessment, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change formed the opinion that the Boreal Caribou is facing imminent threats to its recovery. Section 80 of the Species at Risk Act contains provisions to protect species at risk and their habitat on non-federal land and specifies that the Minister is required to recommend to the Governor in Council that an emergency order be made if the Minister is of the opinion that the species faces imminent threats to its survival or recovery.
  • Public consultations are underway. Information, including a discussion paper and a survey, are available on the Species at Risk Public Registry.
  • Quebec is home to approximately 15 percent of Canada's Boreal Caribou population. The populations of Val-d'Or and Charlevoix live year-round in enclosures with nine and 30 individuals, respectively. Val-d'Or has already crossed the threshold of quasi-extinction, and Charlevoix is very close to reaching it. With fewer than 300 animals, the population of Pipmuacan could cross this threshold in around 10 years.
  • In 2023, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change determined that significant portions of the Boreal Caribou's critical habitat were not effectively protected in Quebec and, as required by the Species at Risk Act, recommended to the Governor in Council that a critical habitat protection order be put in place.
  • In 2012, the Government of Canada released the Boreal Caribou Recovery Strategy, which called for provinces and territories to develop management strategies, also called range plans, to protect critical habitat for Boreal Caribou. Since then, all provinces and territories, except Quebec, have signed conservation agreements to support the recovery and protection of Boreal Caribou.
  • The Boreal Caribou is an indicator of the health of the boreal forest, an ecosystem of great importance to many threatened species. This emergency order could improve the situation of up to 80 other species that live in the boreal forest in Quebec.
Related productsAssociated links

Environment and Climate Change Canada's X (Twitter) page
Environment and Climate Change Canada's Facebook page

SOURCE Environment and Climate Change Canada