Caribou science kept under wraps
Quebec could use unreleased scientific and socio-economic research to assist woodland caribou recovery
Montreal, November 29, 2016 – The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS Quebec) revealed today that the Government of Quebec has refused to release to the public important documents concerning boreal woodland caribou. These reports are crucial for an informed discussion about the conservation of caribou, which are classified as a threatened species by the provincial and federal governments.
The documents include two reports on priority sites for caribou protected areas. The reports were produced by the Équipe de rétablissement du caribou forestier au Québec based on the latest scientific research. One report is over four years old. An official request for publication was presented to the deputy minister responsible for wildlife and parks more than six months ago, but the documents have yet to be published.
“It is unacceptable that the government is concealing important reports while at the same time working to establish a large protected area for boreal woodland caribou in the Montagnes Blanches region,” says Alain Blanchard, Executive Director of CPAWS Quebec.
CPAWS Quebec reported last June that the Ministère des Forêts is planning logging activities north of Lake Manouane (Montagnes Blanches region), an area identified in the reports as a priority for caribou habitat protection. CPAWS Quebec is calling for the government to include the region to the north of Lake Manouane in its Montagnes Blanches protected area project and prevent future logging activities there.
Known socio-economic impacts
The unreleased documents also include two major studies from the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs. One report shows how various regional and provincial caribou recovery strategies would impact annual allowable cut (the volume of wood that can be harvested). For most of the province, the reduction in projected allowable cut is only 4 to 15 percent compared to strategies in effect today.
To put this in perspective, public sources report that on average 20 percent of Quebec’s annual allowable softwood cut was unharvested each year between 2000 and 2012.
“These data show that the socio-economic impact of woodland caribou recovery isn’t as significant at the provincial level as we’ve been led to believe,” says Pier-Olivier Boudreault, Project Manager in Conservation and Forestry at CPAWS Quebec. “The numbers show there is some room to reestablish caribou populations without affecting forestry jobs.”
The second study outlines concrete solutions that could be implemented in caribou habitat areas.
CPAWS Quebec is calling for the government to release the four reports to the public, specify a schedule for implementing the caribou action plan announced in April 2015 and work in collaboration with environmental organizations.
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