AWA News Release: Partnership for Caribou Habitat Restoration
October 3, 2016
The Alberta government announced over the weekend a partnership that will take definitive steps to restore caribou habitat. Funded in part by the oil and gas industry, the partnership includes support for research and restoration by the Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta. AWA welcomes this partnership that will implement a key positive element of the draft Little Smoky and A La Peche caribou range plan.
“AWA is pleased to see funding for caribou habitat restoration that could support a shift from logging to research and restoration in these sensitive landscapes,” says Andrea Johancsik, AWA Conservation Specialist. “Support from the oil and gas industry is recognized and appropriate. We would also like assurance of full industry funding commitment – in addition to the announced program cost of $1.5 million, full restoration is estimated to cost more than $40 million. We would like more disclosure on important funding and implementation elements.”
The government draft caribou range plan, which was released this June, omitted specific limits on new energy industry disturbance. Over 95% of the Little Smoky and A La Peche range area is disturbed. It takes decades to restore habitat and in the meantime, there must be no new disturbance. AWA believes clear surface disturbance limits are essential and may mean the energy industry will need to share existing infrastructure and pool leases and the forest industry will need to share tenure outside of the caribou range.
“There can be no new disturbance in caribou ranges,” Johancsik says. “The partnership will need government audits and reporting to assure Albertans of the government’s role in managing, preventing, and monitoring new disturbance in endangered species habitat.”
The announcement by the Government of Alberta follows a recent interim restriction on the sale of mineral rights within all caribou ranges in Alberta. Woodland caribou are a threatened species both federally and provincially. Alberta is mandated by federal law to complete plans that effectively protect caribou habitat by October 2017.
For more information:
Andrea Johancsik, Alberta Wilderness Association, (403) 283 2025