Active Forest Management and Supporting Caribou Recovery
By embracing strong environmental standards and helping to build a green economy, Canada is known the world over as a trusted source of legal and sustainable forest products.
Our sector prides itself in the positive environmental benefits we realize every day. Indeed, the detailed forest management plans that our companies develop and implement at the provincial level are built to support biodiversity, and our harvesting practices are tailored to meet the unique realities of each forest area.
Active Forest Management Supports Biodiversity
Caribou is an important species for biodiversity and all Canadians want to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to help the species recover. To be successful in helping caribou, it is critical that the government base caribou recovery decisions on regional and best-available information that considers all factors influencing caribou populations (ie. natural and human disturbance, climate change impacts causing changes to nutrition conditions, predator/prey relationships, pathogens and disease).
The forest sector plays a critical role in supporting recovery initiatives. In developing our forest management plans under provincial laws, we factor in the complex dynamics of local ecosystems and regenerate all harvested areas with wildlife habitat in mind. Beyond renewing habitat and the forest resource for future generations, the sector participates in linear disturbances restoration (e.g. replanting seismic lines) and supports regeneration of sites made unproductive through repeated natural disturbances like fire and insect infestations.
The forest sector uses a series of innovative practices in support of caribou recovery (e.g. road deactivation, aggregating disturbances, scheduled harvest deferrals and winter harvesting) with long-term objectives considering large-scale and multi-species ecosystems.
Partnering to Help Caribou
Years before woodland caribou was designated as threatened, our industry started to invest substantially in programs across the country to improve our collective understanding of why some herds are faltering. Believing that solutions must be science-driven, we have been directly supporting a range of initiatives in partnership with leading researchers, environmental groups, governments and community partners over many years. Our members’ partnership with the extensive Caribou Program at fRI Research is helping industry work with government to more effectively manage the land within caribou ranges.
The following are a number of examples of our industry’s collaborative research activities in support of caribou conservation and management:
- Lichen Trials/Collaring: Two decades ago,West Fraser (then Weldwood) and Weyerhaeuser established permanent lichen sample plots, and undertook various forest thinning techniques to promote lichen growth within caribou habitat. Companies have also purchased GPS collars in some caribou herds as part of a larger research program to evaluate long-term caribou conservation planning techniques.
- Identifying High Residency Habitat/ Movement Patterns: Canfor, West Fraser, and Weyerhaeuser are involved in supporting a project, which aims to identify high-quality habitat patches, and functional movement paths that will be used to prioritize areas for restoration.
- Analysis and Improvement of Linear Features to Increase Caribou Functional Habitat: Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), Daishowa-Marubeni International (DMI) Ltd., Millar Western, Tolko, West Fraser, and Weyerhaeuser are supporting research on using direct and indirect methods to determine how caribou respond to linear features at different stages of re-vegetation.
Evaluating the Nutritional Value of Summer Habitats for Caribou: FPAC members are also very involved with the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI) Caribou Nutrition Research Project, along with a number of other organizations, academic institutions, and government. Led by Drs. John Cook and Rachel Cook, the study is researching nutritional ecology of caribou, exploring the opportunities for forest harvesting methods to help generate plant communities that will enhance the landscape’s nutritional value for caribou.
Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) Climate Change and Caribou Conservation Project: SRC undertook an analysis on the implications of climate change for regional caribou and conservation planning.
Other Research and Collaborative Efforts Include:
Dynamic Caribou Habitat Scheduling: As early as 1996, Resolute Forest Products and other companies operating in northwestern Ontario have implemented the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) Dynamic Caribou Habitat Schedule (DCHS) as part of existing Forest Sustainability Plans (Ontario approved forest management plans) in northwestern Ontario. A DCHS concentrates harvest areas, minimizes road densities, implements road decommissioning strategies, and develops silvicultural prescriptions to promote conifer-dominated stands (preferred caribou habitat). This strategy is consistent with the Caribou Conservation Plan developed by the Ontario government and recent data suggests that caribou range retraction in northwestern Ontario has ceased within the last few decades and caribou are returning to previously harvested areas.
Spatial Utilization and Population Dynamic in Managed Landscapes: Starting in 1998, predecessor companies of Resolute Forest Products were involved in caribou collaring projects with the Quebec government and the Quebec Lumber Manufacturers Association. The objective was to investigate how different managed landscape patterns would affect caribou behaviour and population dynamic in the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region. Resolute was also among the first Quebec companies to voluntarily implement a comprehensive caribou habitat management plan in 2009 in that region.
Maternal Penning: The Klinse-Za maternal penning project is an initiative of West Moberly First Nations and Saulteau First Nations in partnership with the technical expertise of Wildlife Infometrics Inc. and West Fraser. The project was developed to help assist the Southern Mountain Klinse-Za herd recovery efforts by protecting pregnant cows and calves in temporary maternal pens to avoid excessive predation during the calving season.
Linear Feature Restoration: TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc. (Al-Pac), and Alberta Environment and Parks have been restoring legacy seismic lines in caribou habitat in the newly formed Dillon River Wildlands Park in northeastern Alberta.
Regional Industry Caribou Collaboration (RICC): Al-Pac is a member of the RICC, a group of Alberta energy and forestry companies working collaboratively on caribou conservation issues across tenure and mineral lease boundaries. The RICC group has collectively restored more than 1000km of seismic lines since 2013.
Variable Buffer Caribou Planning: In collaboration with environmental groups, a caribou habitat plan has been developed for Weyerhaeuser’s operations on Pasquia Porcupine Forest Management Area (PP FMA ) including recommendations for a new protected area in adjacent boreal forest.
Scenario- Based Initiative in the Chinchaga Transboundary Range: Daishowa-Marubeni International (DMI) Ltd. is leading an initiative to develop a scenario-based comprehensive modeling tool designed to test range-scale solutions.
Partnerships similar to the ones between members of the FPAC, research organizations, Indigenous communities and other partners illustrated above are the best way forward – guided by thorough science and knowledge. Only through such collaborations and science-based work can we actively support caribou populations and forest communities.
Join thousands of Canadians and tell your local MP right now that we need a caribou plan that’s based on sound science
There is too much at stake for caribou, forest ecosystems and Canadian jobs to see plans that won’t work. Use the form below to send a letter right now to your local representatives, telling them that you support the right plan for caribou that also makes sure our forest sector remains strong.