The Southern Mountain and Boreal caribou are listed as threatened under Alberta’s Wildlife Act and the federal Species at Risk Act
Today, the Canadian government and Alberta have reached an historic agreement for the conservation and recovery of the Woodland caribou in Alberta.
Alberta’s caribou populations have dramatically declined due to habitat changes and increased predation. The governments believe entering into a conservation agreement under section 11 of the federal Species at Risk Act demonstrates meaningful progress that will benefit caribou in Alberta and its survival in the wild.
“I am pleased to announce that the governments of Canada and Alberta have signed a conservation agreement under the Species at Risk Act that commits to taking actions required to support Woodland caribou recovery in Alberta.” Said Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Government of Canada
The agreement supports Alberta’s ongoing caribou recovery program and sets out clear caribou conservation, management, and recovery actions with timelines for achieving naturally self-sustaining caribou populations and habitat recovery.
“This agreement with the federal government is consistent with Alberta’s commitment to end decades of uncertainty around caribou recovery and land use. Our negotiated section 11 agreement puts Alberta’s needs first, instead of having an order imposed on us under the Species at Risk Act.” Said Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks, Government of Alberta
The agreement acknowledges Alberta’s ongoing work to recover caribou and their habitat and includes:
- Moving ahead with land-use planning that enables a working landscape and supports achievement of caribou recovery goals.
- Mechanisms for approving oil and gas and forestry projects that align with caribou recovery outcomes.
- Considering socio-economic implications of conservation and recovery measures needed.
- Restoring critical caribou habitat by planting trees in historical seismic lines.
- Managing wildlife population to support caribou recovery.
- Monitoring caribou population, habitat status, and recovery trends.
The agreement builds on the momentum that Alberta’s government created last year through its caribou sub-regional task forces, establishing timelines and milestones for their work, including consideration of social, economic, and environmental values when providing advice to government on sub-regional plans.
Under Section 11 of the federal Species at Risk Act allows the federal government to enter into a conservation agreement with another government, an organization, or a person to benefit a species at risk or enhance its survival in the wild.
There are two types of Woodland caribou in Alberta: Southern Mountain caribou and Boreal caribou. Both are listed as threatened under Alberta’s Wildlife Act and the federal Species at Risk Act.
Engagement with affected Albertans is key to achieving caribou recovery in Alberta while addressing the needs of communities. A diverse group of Albertans, including the forestry and energy industries, Indigenous communities, municipalities, local business, and environmental and conservation organizations, provided feedback on the agreement. This feedback helped develop the conservation and recovery measures that will be implemented.