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December 21, 2018
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s plan for the recovery and protection of boreal caribou critical habitat in Labrador is recognized in the “Progress Report on Steps Taken to Protect Critical Habitat for the Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), Boreal Population, in Canada” released by Environment and Climate Change Canada today.
Previous federal reports on Canada’s woodland caribou boreal populations have focused on habitat protection and range planning; unlike almost all other jurisdictions in Canada, caribou habitat in Labrador – including that of the migratory George River herd in northern Labrador and boreal herds of southern Labrador – is effectively pristine. The decline and continued low abundance of these herds has been driven by a combination of natural population cycles and unsustainable harvesting, rather than lack of critical habitat.
Today’s release of the federal report on boreal caribou supports this important distinction, noting the relative intactness of the three local ranges in Labrador, as well as the processes the province has already established to manage land use and critical habitat in accordance with the federal recovery strategy.
In response to the Provincial Government’s call for its federal counterparts to acknowledge threats to caribou beyond habitat loss, and to provide substantial financial resources to address relevant regional threats, the Provincial and Federal Governments are now collaborating on a draft conservation agreement under Section 11 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) for boreal caribou. This agreement provides a framework focusing on research, monitoring, and Indigenous involvement in caribou management, and outlines a regionally sensitive approach that considers threats beyond habitat. The Conservation Agreement is expected to be finalized soon. For more information on Newfoundland and Labrador’s status in the federal report, please see the attached backgrounder.
“I am pleased that the Federal Government has now acknowledged the unique challenges and threats facing Labrador’s caribou herds, which, in our case, result from natural cycles and unsustainable harvesting, not habitat loss as experienced in other parts of Canada. Our collaboration with the Government of Canada to develop a bi-lateral conservation agreement that includes much-needed financial resources is an important step towards boreal caribou recovery. This agreement is an opportunity for success – it serves as a blueprint for continued collaboration to extend similar support for migratory George River Caribou Herd recovery efforts that will help ensure conservation of all of our vital and iconic Labrador caribou herds.”
Honourable Gerry Byrne
Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources
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Progress Report on Steps Taken to Protect Critical Habitat for the Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), Boreal Population, in Canada
Fisheries and Land Resources
Fisheries and Land Resources
According to the December 21 “Progress Report on Steps Taken to Protect Critical Habitat for the Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), Boreal Population, in Canada” the Federal Government recognizes the relative intactness of the three local ranges in Labrador and the processes the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador already has in place to manage land use and critical habitat to ensure it is effectively managed consistent with the federal recovery strategy.
Building on these processes, Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador have been negotiating a draft conservation agreement in principle under Section 11 of SARA for boreal caribou, and are committed to concluding it in the near future. This draft agreement intends to codify concrete measures of relevance to the protection and recovery of the species and its critical habitat, and will provide a framework for achieving the critical habitat outcomes, among other caribou recovery outcomes sought by the Provincial Government.
Areas highlighted in the federal report:
Newfoundland and Labrador continues to monitor and manage caribou habitat on the landscape through various legislated processes that manage land use activities. Notably, proposed land-use activities may be approved or rejected by the provincial Department of Fisheries and Land Resources, based on the potential to impact caribou or their habitat, which help to ensure the protection of caribou core areas, and to provide mitigations that will limit disturbance within the range.
The Provincial Government continues to undertake recovery and management planning activities, which will feature and support future land use planning, and habitat protection through forest management processes, such as coordinated forestry planning with the Innu Nation within the Red Wine Mountain range which prohibits commercial forestry activities within the reserve, with only small-scale domestic harvest permitted. This reserve is in place for the 2018 to 2022 forestry planning cycle. Additionally, the province continues to limit forest harvesting during the sensitive calving period.