Woodland caribou scientific review to identify critical habitat: chapter 3


3.1 Background

The Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), Boreal Population (herein referred to as boreal caribou), was last assessed in May 2002 as Threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). Boreal Caribou were added to Schedule 1 of Species at Risk Act (SARA) and in accordance with SARA, the Minister of the Environment must prepare a Recovery Strategy for this species that includes an identi.cation of its Critical Habitat (CH) and/or if there is insuf.cient information available, a Schedule of Studies to determine that information. A National Recovery Strategy for boreal caribou was due for posting on the SARA Public Registry by June 5, 2007. The identi.cation of CH is a key element of posted Recovery Strategies on the SARA Public Registry (SARA S. 41 (1) (c)).

In February 2002, a National Boreal Caribou Technical Steering Committee, represented by the 10 jurisdictions involved in the recovery of the boreal caribou, was established to develop a National Recovery Strategy for Boreal Caribou. A draft strategy was completed in June 2007 and tabled as advice to all 10 jurisdictions that are responsible for caribou. Earlier drafts of the National Recovery Strategy documented extensive deliberations on the concept of Critical Habitat for boreal caribou (see also Racey and Arsenault 2007). Critical Habitat was not identi.ed in the .nal draft National Recovery Strategy.

In August 2007, Environment Canada (EC) launched an expert, science-based review of the state of knowledge of boreal caribou Critical Habitat with the mandate to develop a consolidated, scienti.cally defensible identi.cation of Critical Habitat, and/or a valid Schedule of Studies to support its identi.cation. To complete this task, EC established an internal management team to conduct the review, and to compile and analyze all information relevant to this initiative. Environment Canada also engaged leading experts in landscape ecology, caribou biology, spatial habitat modeling, and population analysis to provide scienti. c advice in the identi.cation of Critical Habitat for boreal caribou. Of these leading experts, 18 were part of a Science Advisory Group (SAG) mandated to provide ongoing peer review throughout the process (see Appendix 6.1 for list of SAG members). An additional group of experts participated in the science review during a 2-day workshop held in Toronto on November 19-20, 2007. This report is the product of the full scientific review.

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