In 2003, the Boreal population of the Woodland Caribou was listed as a threatened species in Canada under the newly adopted Species at Risk Act (SARA). A recovery strategy was subsequently developed and posted by Environment Canada in October 2012 with the main goal to achieve self-sustaining local populations to the extent possible. Boreal caribou require large range areas with continuous tracts of undisturbed habitat. Their preferred habitat contains forest with abundant lichen as primary food source. The boreal caribou populations are experiencing stress due to habitat disturbance and predation, both natural and human induced.
There are 51 boreal caribou ranges in seven provinces and two territories, covering areas from the north east corner of Yukon to Labrador and south to Lake Superior. The ranges vary in size and degree of threat to the likelihood of self-sustaining a population. Northeast Alberta contains 5 caribou ranges that overlap with the oilsands resource region.
In the 2012 Recovery Strategy, range plans were prescribed as a tool to outline how land and/or resource activities will be managed to protect critical habitat. Each respective jurisdiction was given 3-5 years to complete such plans. The July 2017 Government of Canada’s proposed Action Plan emphasized that the recovery of the species requires “unprecedented commitment, collaboration and cooperation among the various groups involved in boreal caribou conservation.” Specifically, the Action Plan outlines the recovery measures that the Government of Canada is taking or will take to help achieve recovery for boreal caribou, including in three key areas: 1) Science to support recovery, including the creation of the National Boreal Caribou Knowledge Consortium to enable governments, Indigenous peoples, and stakeholders to regularly share information and lessons learned; 2) Recovery and protection activities, including section 11 agreements with provinces and territories and other interested parties as well as action on federal lands; and 3) Reporting on progress.”
As the action plans and range plans impact resource development (forestry, mining, oil and gas, aggregates), recreation use, municipalities and indigenous communities, multi-stakeholder engagement is important in the development of range plans and implementation.
Purpose of CHOA session
Policy on caribou recovery will have significant impact on the oil and gas sector that operate in and around caribou ranges. Governments, along with numerous stakeholders, have conducted studies, taken action on habitat restoration and progressed plans to implement further recovery mechanisms in pursuit of boreal caribou self-sustaining populations. Understanding of the concerns regarding boreal caribou populations and the resulting implications for the industry is not broadly known. The CHOA provides technical and educational programs to its members and the general public on topics relevant to the industry. The purpose of the half-day session is to provide a general understanding on the issue to attendees and an opportunity to hear directly from a cross section of stakeholders.
We are excited to welcome the following Speakers and Presentations:
Lori Neufeld (Imperial) -- Caribou 101 (biology, threats, current populations and trends, recovery response [feds, province], business risk)
Lori Neufeld is a Senior Environmental Advisor at Imperial, leading the company’s policy and advocacy efforts on caribou, land-use planning and wetlands. She supports the collaborative research and innovation being undertaken by Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) and represents CAPP at the British Columbia Research & Effectiveness Monitoring Board and more recently on the newly established National Boreal Caribou Knowledge Consortium.
Summary of the Caribou 101 Presentation
In October 2012, the federal government released the recovery strategy for boreal caribou, a population of woodland caribou that was assessed as threatened in 2002 and listed on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act. This was followed by release of the recovery strategy for southern mountain caribou in 2014. The recovery goal for both boreal caribou and southern mountain caribou is to achieve self-sustaining status in all caribou ranges across Canada. Unprecedented collaboration will be required by all land users and levels of government to achieve this goal. This Caribou 101 presentation will summarize the biology, threats, current population trends, and history of range planning in Alberta. It will provide the context of why this issue is of importance to resource industries in Alberta.
Summary of Imperial Presentation
Imperial believes that energy resources can be developed responsibly, in a manner that supports caribou habitat restoration and enables the recovery of caribou populations. As a key mineral tenure holder in the Little Smoky, Cold Lake, East Side Athabasca River and Richardson caribou ranges, Imperial has been engaged in multiple range planning initiatives over the last 5 years and has tabled credible solutions to support caribou recovery. Imperial is a founding member of Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance and the Regional Industry Caribou Collaboration. Through these two organizations, Imperial has been supporting and advancing science-based and collaborative caribou research and habitat restoration projects. In this presentation, Imperial will highlight the key levers needed to support a working landscape that is concurrent with caribou recovery.
Mark Boulton (COSIA)– COSIA Caribou Strategy (multi-lever approach, priorities, key projects / EPALS [ABC Chairs, habitat restoration prioritization, predator fencing, wildfire risk modeling)
Mark Boulton, Senior Environmental Policy Advisor at Suncor is a professional biologist supporting the company’s aspiration to lead the way in sustainable development and continually raise the bar as a sustainability leader. To help achieve this, he represents Suncor as a member of the Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) Caribou Working Group and the fRI Research Board of Directors and represents CAPP at the British Columbia Research & Effectiveness Monitoring Board.
Summary of COSIA Caribou Strategy Presentation
COSIA Land Environmental Priority Area member companies work collaboratively to achieve more effective conservation and recovery of caribou and their habitat in the oil sands region of Alberta, than could be realized individually. The COSIA Caribou Working Group strategy prioritizes key projects that address gaps and the opportunities identified using a multi-lever approach. This presentation will summarize and review the EPA led studies and joint industry projects undertaken at the regional scale required to address issues related to a landscape level species like caribou.
Caroline Hann (MEG) – Habitat Restoration in ESAR (restoration tools and techniques, AFSAR funding role, early action application under ALSA)
Michael Cody (Cenovus) – Habitat Restoration in Cold Lake Forest habitat restoration has been identified as a cornerstone in caribou recovery, and Cenovus Energy Inc. has made restoration central to our response to the issue. Cenovus will present our rationale for and approach to forest restoration. In addition, we will present how restoration supports a working landscape and we will provide an overview of the Cenovus Caribou Habitat Restoration Project.
Michael Cody, Specialist in Land and Biodiversity with Cenovus. I have a background in forestry and soil science, and I have been involved in applied research in forest restoration over the past 10 years.
Forest habitat restoration has been identified as a cornerstone in caribou recovery, and Cenovus Energy Inc. has made restoration central to our response to the issue. Cenovus will present our rationale for and approach to forest restoration. In addition, we will present how restoration supports a working landscape and we will provide an overview of the Cenovus Caribou Habitat Restoration Project.
Carolyn Campbell (Alberta Wilderness Association ) – Will give the NGO point of view.
ADM Ronda Goulden is confirmed to attend and speak on behalf of AEP.