Canada and Ontario reach agreement on boreal caribou conservation
April 22, 2022 – Gatineau, Quebec
The governments of Canada and Ontario have reached an agreement to support the conservation and recovery of boreal caribou in Ontario.
The boreal caribou is an iconic species. It is listed as a threatened species under both the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) and the Ontario Endangered Species Act. By entering into a conservation agreement under section 11 of SARA, the governments of Canada and Ontario will collaborate to take important actions to benefit the caribou and its recovery in Ontario.
Together, Canada and Ontario are acting on a shared commitment to caribou conservation and recovery. The agreement builds on Ontario’s ongoing caribou conservation program and the federal caribou action plan, through cooperation and investment in monitoring, reporting, protection, restoration, planning, management, and stewardship actions.
It includes the following commitments:
- Planning and implementing habitat restoration activities.
- Increasing protection of boreal caribou habitat through protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.
- Using evidence-based approaches to manage for self-sustaining local populations.
- Monitoring and reporting on current and projected future population and habitat conditions.
- Collaboration and implementation of conservation measures that are informed by independent experts, Indigenous communities and organizations, and stakeholders.
Given the importance and widespread interest in boreal caribou conservation, Canada and Ontario hosted several engagement sessions with Indigenous communities and environmental organizations, as well as industry stakeholders, to seek input to inform the final conservation agreement.
The governments of Canada and Ontario have committed to providing over $5 million each in funding in 2022-2023 to support implementing conservation measures that rely on evidence-based approaches, including Indigenous traditional knowledge. The agreement will be key to managing the caribou recovery in a way that supports strong communities and local economies in the face of other factors such as climate change.
“Boreal caribou are an absolutely iconic species. The health of the boreal caribou herds reflects the health of the whole boreal forest. These threatened species face a number of risks that require a deliberate and dedicated plan of action to ensure their long-term well-being. We need to get this right—this is a first step towards ensuring the sustainability of caribou herds in Ontario, but more conservation work and added funding will be needed in the future to guarantee their successful recovery. I look forward to continuing our collaboration with Ontario to collectively conserve and protect this species we hold dear for today and for future generations.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“We have a joint commitment to the protection and recovery of boreal caribou in Ontario. Through our shared goal of protecting this iconic and integral species and its habitat, our agreement achieves an important balance with the social and economic realities of Ontarians, industries in the north, and the broader species and ecosystems affected. I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with federal colleagues, Indigenous communities, industry, and conservation organizations to protect caribou now and for future generations.”
– The Honourable David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
The boreal caribou is listed as a threatened species under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, and Ontario’s caribou population is a component of the national boreal caribou population, listed as threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act.
It is estimated that there are roughly 5,000 boreal caribou in Ontario.
In Ontario, the boreal caribou is found north of Sioux Lookout, Geraldton, and Cochrane, with an isolated population along the shoreline and islands of Lake Superior.
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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