Canada and Alberta reach caribou conservation deal 

News release


October 23, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario

The governments of Canada and Alberta have reached an agreement for the conservation and recovery of woodland caribou in Alberta.

Alberta’s caribou populations have dramatically declined due to habitat changes and increased predation. The governments believe entering into a conservation agreement under section 11 of the federal Species at Risk Act demonstrates meaningful progress that will benefit caribou in Alberta and its survival in the wild.

“I am pleased to announce that the governments of Canada and Alberta have signed a conservation agreement under the Species at Risk Act that commits to taking actions required to support woodland caribou recovery in Alberta. The Government of Alberta along with Indigenous Peoples, industry stakeholders, and many others have taken steps to support caribou recovery, and I believe this agreement will help fulfill obligations to future generations of Canadians. The Government of Canada recognizes that at this time, this collaborative approach—as opposed to an order under the Species at Risk Act—represents the best path forward for the conservation and recovery of boreal and southern mountain caribou in Alberta.”
– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Government of Canada

Together, Canada and Alberta are acting on a shared commitment to address caribou conservation and recovery. The agreement supports Alberta’s ongoing caribou recovery program and sets out clear caribou conservation, management, and recovery actions with timelines for achieving naturally self-sustaining caribou populations and habitat recovery.

“This agreement with the federal government is consistent with Alberta’s commitment to end decades of uncertainty around caribou recovery and land use. Our negotiated section 11 agreement puts Alberta’s needs first, instead of having an order imposed on us under the Species at Risk Act. Alberta’s government will continue to work with our many partners on developing common-sense solutions to protect caribou populations, maintain jobs and grow local economies. Albertans want to ensure that their communities have input on caribou recovery solutions that work. That is why I established three Caribou task forces made up of people who have a stake in these important caribou ranges. The agreement also builds on the momentum that Alberta’s government created last year through its Caribou Sub-regional Task Forces and establishes timelines for the work of the task forces, including consideration of social, economic and environmental values when advising on sub-regional plans.”
– Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks, Government of Alberta

The agreement acknowledges Alberta’s ongoing work to recover caribou and their habitat and includes:

  • Moving ahead with land-use planning that enables a working landscape and supports achievement of caribou recovery goals.
  • Mechanisms for approving oil and gas and forestry projects that align with caribou recovery outcomes.
  • Considering socio-economic implications of conservation and recovery measures needed.
  • Restoring critical caribou habitat by planting trees in historical seismic lines.
  • Managing wildlife population to support caribou recovery.
  • Monitoring caribou population, habitat status, and recovery trends.

The governments of Canada and Alberta also commit to sharing information and engaging with Indigenous Peoples on progress related to the implementation of measures in the agreement and opportunities for collaboration.

The agreement builds on the momentum that Alberta’s government created last year through its caribou sub-regional task forces, establishing timelines and milestones for their work, including consideration of social, economic, and environmental values when providing advice to government on sub-regional plans.

Engagement with affected Albertans is key to achieving caribou recovery in Alberta while addressing the needs of communities. A diverse group of Albertans, including the forestry and energy industries, Indigenous communities, municipalities, local business, and environmental and conservation organizations, provided feedback on the agreement. This feedback helped develop the conservation and recovery measures that will be implemented.

The governments of Canada and Alberta have committed to providing funding to support implementing this agreement. This agreement will be key to managing caribou recovery while maintaining jobs, building local economies, and supporting strong communities—particularly as Alberta recovers from the economic effects of COVID-19.

Quick facts

  • There are two types of woodland caribou in Alberta: southern mountain caribou and boreal caribou. Both are listed as threatened under Alberta’s Wildlife Act and the federal Species at Risk Act. 

  • There are currently 12 boreal and three southern mountain caribou populations in the province. 

  • Alberta measures the population growth of all remaining caribou populations on provincial lands. 

  • Section 11 of the federal Species at Risk Act allows the federal government to enter into a conservation agreement with another government, an organization, or a person to benefit a species at risk or enhance its survival in the wild.

    • Such agreements must provide for the taking of conservation measures such as monitoring the status of the species; developing and implementing education and public awareness programs; developing and implementing recovery strategies, action plans, and management plans; protecting the species’ habitat; and undertaking research projects in support of recovery efforts for the species.

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Moira Kelly
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Jess Sinclair
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Parks

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Twitter page

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Facebook page 

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