Survival of a Canadian icon seriously threatened by industry | News
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New federal study on caribou recommends habitat needed for survival

OTTAWA — The federal government today released a ground-breaking science report that provides recommendations on the habitat needed for boreal woodland caribou survival. The report was commissioned by Environment Canada to assist it in fulfilling its obligations under the national Species At Risk Act.

At present, Canada's boreal woodland caribou are threatened with extinction due to industrial activities like logging and oil and gas exploration in their habitat.

"This report shows that federal and provincial governments need to work together to maintain, protect and restore caribou habitat across the country," says Rachel Plotkin, policy analyst with the David Suzuki Foundation. "It also gives us the science needed to figure out appropriate levels of industrial activity where caribou live." What's more, the report highlights that for a number of caribou populations, the thresholds of habitat disturbance have already been crossed, and without swift action by federal and provincial governments, the likelihood of the survival of these populations in 100 years is less than 50 per cent.

Caribou need healthy, road-less forests to survive. They are "bell weathers" for climate change. If caribou aren't doing well, that means our forests are in trouble and we need healthy forests to help fight climate change.

"Many Canadians would be shocked to learn that places they think of as 'untouched wilderness' are in fact full of logging roads and oil and gas exploration cut lines," says David Suzuki. "This report shows we are at a critical 'tipping point' in ensuring caribou survival and the future health of Canada's boreal forest."

Although the report should be used as a model for future research on the habitat of other endangered species, it does provide an incomplete picture of the health of herds in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. The authors point to the fact that more research must be done by those provinces to properly develop any future strategy for recovery and protection of caribou herds. The David Suzuki Foundation also calls upon the federal government to accelerate overdue consultations with Aboriginal Canadians.

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For more information, contact:

Rachel Plotkin, Policy Analyst
David Suzuki Foundation
Cell: 613-796-7999

April 9, 2009
http://www.davidsuzuki.org/media/news/2009/04/survival-of-a-canadian-icon-seriously-threatened-by-industry/