Some residents of forestry-dependent communities and their elected municipal officials have expressed considerable opposition to caribou recovery planning, as they fear it will result in significant job losses or mill closures and a reduction in the industrial tax base. However, much of the planned wood supply in forest management units (FMUs) that significantly overlap boreal caribou ranges is not being logged. This raises important questions as to why critical caribou habitat cannot be protected without causing economic hardship.
If boreal woodland caribou populations are to survive and recover, their habitat must be maintained and restored to provide enough space for mating, rearing young and evading predators. Yet the Government of Ontario has allowed industrial expansion into unfragmented caribou habitat — including logging, mining, hydro corridors and roads — to continue, without range plans in place to guide (and potentially restrict) further industrial expansion and ensure strategic habitat restoration. The latest publicly available population data and range disturbance information indicate that boreal caribou critical habitat degradation has worsened over the past 10 years.
The purpose of this report is to explore opportunities to protect critical habitat and address concerns of forestry dependent communities. Four strategies are considered: 1) sharing the wood supply surplus, 2) improving socio-economic analysis to better reflect opportunities and trade-offs, 3) mobilizing the marketplace to both expect and reward critical habitat and 4) linking government subsidies, grants and guaranteed loan programs to critical habitat protection.
Ontario Nature is a conservation organization that protects wild species and spaces through conservation, education and public engagement.