Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Rethink Caribou Protection Plan, Says Forest Industry

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Rethink Caribou Protection Plan, Says Forest Industry

Article excerpt

Federal caribou plan risky: forest industry

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OTTAWA - Canada's forestry industry says a proposed federal plan to protect caribou is a risky experiment that will do little to help the animals, but will hurt companies already struggling with U.S. softwood tariffs.

Derek Nighbor, chief executive officer of the Forest Products Association of Canada, wrote to Environment Minister Catherine McKenna this week asking her to rethink the proposed caribou action plan issued in late July.

The caribou are a Canadian icon people see every time they look at the back of a quarter, but scientists have said they will become extinct without an effort to stop their decline.

Nighbor said the industry wants to protect the animals as much anyone, but the federal plan is based on incomplete science about the impact of industrial activities and doesn't consider other factors such as climate change, air pollution, natural predators and disease.

He said recent research suggests caribou populations in places with little industrial activity, such as Banff National Park and northern Labrador, are declining but populations in some places with high levels of disturbance, such as the Lac Saint-Jean region of Quebec, are thriving.

The federal plan includes an investment in additional research and requests feedback from any organization or person who has updated science, but the forestry association fears an October deadline for provinces to produce caribou range plans means incomplete science will be used to establish the recovery strategy.

Kate Lindsay, a biologist and vice-president of sustainability and environmental partnerships for the forestry association, went on a helicopter tour of caribou habitat in Alberta this week and said from the sky caribou ranges listed on paper as being highly disturbed appear lush, green and with large swaths of untouched forest.

She said it has become clear to her that each of Canada's 51 caribou ranges has different needs and impacts and must be treated individually. …

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