Government of Canada making additional investments to support the recovery of woodland caribou in Jasper National Park
August 10, 2021 Jasper National Park, Alberta Parks Canada Agency
The Government of Canada is committed to protecting biodiversity conservation and undertakes important initiatives to assist species at risk recovery and ensure that these species remain an important part of our shared natural and cultural heritage.
Today, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced plans to move forward on new and additional measures to support woodland caribou recovery in Jasper National Park. Budget 2021 has made over $24 million available through the Nature Legacy program for caribou conservation initiatives in the park.
Parks Canada wildlife specialists have been working for many years to protect habitat and support the recovery of woodland caribou herds in Jasper National Park. These specialists have collaborated with experts from universities, provincial governments, and conservation groups to explore additional measures that can help to support woodland caribou recovery. One of these is a proposal for a conservation breeding program to help rebuild caribou populations as part of the broader Multi-Species Action Plan for Jasper National Park.
As a result of today’s announced funding, Parks Canada will move forward on a number of fronts, including advancing detailed design work for a conservation breeding facility which will allow Parks Canada to inform the impact assessment process. Ecological integrity is Parks Canada’s first priority. Impact assessments are used to manage the impact of infrastructure projects, and when possible, increase ecological gains for park ecosystems.
Plans are also being finalized for consultation on the initiative with Indigenous partners and the general public beginning as early as fall 2021. If approved following consultation and completion of the impact assessment process, the conservation breeding facility would be built nearby in favourable caribou habitat, south of the Jasper townsite.
Parks Canada is committed to continuing to involve Indigenous peoples early and in the planning stages of the proposed conservation breeding program and to facilitating ceremony throughout the process. Moving forward, Parks Canada will work with Indigenous partner communities to formally review the proposal and will consult Indigenous peoples about how to incorporate traditional knowledge and Indigenous ways of knowing into the proposed conservation breeding program in Jasper National Park.
Efforts to protect caribou and critical caribou habitat in Jasper National Park are part of a broader effort by federal and provincial governments as well as Indigenous partners, peoples and communities to support the recovery of woodland caribou across Canada.
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“The woodland caribou is an iconic species that is important part of the natural and cultural history of Canada. Through this important initiative, the Government of Canada is moving forward with concrete action to assist the species in its recovery within the boundaries of Jasper National Park – a special protected place that provides the best scenario for a successful conservation effort. This funding will support Parks Canada to take further action to protect ecological integrity and contribute to the recovery of species at risk.”
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson,
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
Jasper National Park extends over 11,000 square kilometres. It is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies and part of UNESCO's Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site.
Jasper is home to three herds of southern mountain caribou: the Tonquin, Brazeau, and À La Pêche herds. A fourth herd, the Maligne was recently declared extirpated but the protected habitat remains. The Tonquin herd is estimated to have 45 caribou and the Brazeau herd to have fewer than 15 caribou. The Tonquin and Brazeau herds do not have enough female caribou (10 or fewer in each herd) to be able to recover without assistance.
The À La Pêche herd is a partially migratory herd of about 150 animals on Jasper’s northern boundary that is primarily managed and monitored by the Province of Alberta. Some animals in the herd stay in Jasper National Park year-round, some stay in the foothills of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, and some migrate back and forth.
The network of protected areas in Canada plays an important role in helping to address the impacts of climate change by protecting and restoring healthy, resilient ecosystems and contributing to the recovery of species at risk. Under the Species at Risk Act (SARA), Parks Canada is responsible for the protection and recovery of listed species found in national parks, including caribou in Jasper National Park. Critical caribou habitat throughout Jasper National Park is protected under the Canada National Parks Act and Species at Risk Act.
Parks Canada is among the few national parks systems in the world that have a system-wide ecological integrity monitoring and reporting program that guides restoration action. Parks Canada works with Indigenous communities across the country as partners in conserving natural heritage and collaborates with academic and scientific institutions on ecological monitoring projects.
Impact assessment provides Parks Canada a means of giving full consideration to the potential effects of its decisions on natural and cultural resources, as well as on the maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity, commemorative integrity and ecological sustainability prior to approval and implementation of a project so that potential adverse environmental effects can be identified, avoided, mitigated, and monitored, as required.
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Parks Canada Agency
Public Relations and Communications Officer
Jasper National Park
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