The governments of Canada and British Columbia are committed to protecting Canada’s wildlife by following the advice of scientists, acting to protect biodiversity and helping threatened or endangered species. The continuing decline of caribou in Canada and the impact this has on biodiversity and on Indigenous peoples, in particular, is of concern.
The governments of Canada and British Columbia have developed a draft conservation agreement, under the federal Species at Risk Act, to support southern mountain caribou recovery, starting with the population known as the Central Group. The agreement sets out short-, medium- and long-term targets and immediate caribou recovery measures in the Central Group and it aims to reverse the population decline.
British Columbia has committed to recovering southern mountain caribou by establishing population objectives and improving its overall legislative framework for species at risk. Recovery actions include range planning, habitat protection and restoration, as well as population management, including maternity penning and access control to sensitive caribou habitat. British Columbia will also lead in establishing a restoration fund under the agreement to support recovery actions for southern mountain caribou.
Canada and British Columbia are also discussing partnership opportunities with directly affected First Nations in the recovery of caribou. Following consultations with Indigenous communities and stakeholders, Canada and British Columbia are expecting to conclude their negotiations on the draft agreement over the next several months and release a final agreement in the spring of 2018.
The draft agreement articulates the commitments that will put southern mountain caribou on a positive trajectory. It acknowledges that the long-term goal is to achieve self-sustaining populations in the Central Group, consistent with the outcomes set out in the southern mountain caribou recovery strategy. Once the final agreement is in place, the intention is to expand the agreement to other southern mountain caribou groups in British Columbia.
The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada —
“We are committed to working with British Columbia, Indigenous peoples, as well as with stakeholders, to develop science-based approaches to recovering caribou, while continuing to support economic development and job creation.”
George Heyman, B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy —
“Along with our Indigenous and federal partners, we will work closely with industry and other stakeholders to effectively reverse the decline in caribou and restore people’s faith that responsible, sustainable resource development can occur in B.C.”
- The draft agreement will be posted for a 30-day comment period on the Species at Risk Public Registry website on Nov. 27, 2017.
Species at Risk Public Registry: http://www.registrelep-sararegistry.gc.ca/species/speciesDetails_e.cfm?sid=638
Current distribution of southern mountain caribou local population units (LPUs) and subpopulations: http://www.registrelep-sararegistry.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=5837FBB5-1&offset=7&toc=show%20-%20_fig04
Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Twitter page: https://twitter.com/environmentca
Environment and Natural Resources in Canada's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/EnvironmentandNaturalResourcesinCanada/?fref=ts
A backgrounder follows.
Marie-Pascale Des RosiersPress Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Media RelationsEnvironment and Climate Change Canada
1 844 836-7799 (toll free)
B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change StrategyMedia Relations
What is a conservation agreement?
Section 11 of the Species at Risk Act enables a federal minister to enter into an agreement with any other government in Canada, organization, or person to benefit a species at risk or enhance its survival in the wild. These agreements must provide for the taking of conservation measures and any other measures consistent with the Species at Risk Act, including measures with respect to:
- monitoring the status of a species
- developing and implementing recovery strategies, action plans and management plans
- protecting the species’ habitat, including its critical habitat
- undertaking research projects in support of recovery efforts for the species
The agreement between the governments of Canada and British Columbia describes how the parties will work together to support the survival and recovery of southern mountain caribou, starting with the population known as the Central Group.
The draft Canada-British Columbia conservation agreement for southern mountain caribou
The goal of this draft agreement is to describe the actions the governments of Canada and British Columbia will take over the next five years to support the recovery of southern mountain caribou populations to self-sustaining levels within the Central Group. The agreement commits Canada and British Columbia to collaborate with directly affected First Nations in all aspects of caribou recovery, and support their treaty and Aboriginal rights to harvest caribou. The federal and provincial governments contemplate expansion of this agreement to include other southern mountain caribou populations.
The draft agreement acknowledges that the long-term goal is to achieve self-sustaining populations across each of the local population units, consistent with the outcomes set out in the Species at Risk Act federal recovery strategy. It sets short-, medium-, and long-term population targets. The agreement also commits to the development of scenarios to achieve the British Columbia portion of the federal recovery target of 1,000 caribou over the long term for the Central Group. Caribou recovery requires immediate on-the-ground measures and additional actions over the long term to protect and restore habitat, increase caribou recruitment and manage caribou mortality.
British Columbia is committing to:
- identifying and reserving all untenured, winter and summer, high-elevation caribou range
- developing range plans in consultation with directly affected First Nations
- ensuring incremental increases in habitat for caribou by a range of measures, including restoration, incremental habitat protection and habitat offsetting
- improving its overall legislative framework for species at risk, within the terms of the agreement
- providing mortality and population management, including predator management and captive rearing
- managing access to areas containing caribou habitat
- co-ordinating planning efforts between Canada, British Columbia and the directly affected Indigenous peoples
- establishing a mechanism to resolve key knowledge gaps, including Indigenous traditional knowledge, or technical questions with respect to caribou recovery
- facilitating the integration of new information into updated recovery and planning documents
These short-, medium-, and long-term targets rely on continued progress on habitat protection, and restoration and presume minimal impact on caribou recovery from unknown or unanticipated factors, such as climate change, the continued ability to manage predators over the short and medium term, and some ability to manage primary prey for those predators. If those assumptions prove to be invalid, then these targets will not be attainable. The parties have the greatest degree of confidence in the ability to meet the short-term goal.
The draft agreement also commits the parties to establishing a restoration fund that may also receive third-party contributions.
The governments of Canada and British Columbia are also proposing to enter into one or more parallel agreements with directly affected First Nations to support recovery, including participating in planning, implementing conservation measures and gathering further information, such as traditional knowledge.