Ontario Protecting Boreal Caribou with Historic Investments
Provincial funding helping protect and conserve habitat of threatened species
March 15, 2023
Environment, Conservation and Parks
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THUNDER BAY — The Ontario government is supporting the protection of boreal caribou and their habitat through a $29 million investment over four years. The funding – the largest single investment dedicated to caribou in Ontario’s history – will support on-the-ground habitat restoration, protection and other conservation activities, including monitoring, science and research.
“Today’s historic investment demonstrates our government’s continued action towards protecting and conserving boreal caribou in Ontario, building on the important work we’ve done to date,” said David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “Recognizing that conservation and recovery of boreal caribou requires long-term commitment, we’re proud Ontario is a national leader in these efforts, while also considering the unique needs of Northern Ontario and Indigenous communities.”
The new funding supports the implementation of the Canada-Ontario Agreement for the Conservation of Caribou, Boreal Population in Ontario, finalized in 2022. The health of the boreal caribou population is important to the biodiversity of Ontario’s boreal forests.
“Boreal caribou are an essential part of forest ecosystems across Canada and here in Northern Ontario, which is why we are making a substantial investment in on-the-ground stewardship,” said Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “This funding shows Ontario’s commitment to safeguarding boreal caribou populations and supporting recovery efforts of this important species.”
In addition to this new historic funding, since 2018, Ontario has invested close to $3 million in a variety of programs and projects, including the Northern Mammal Ecology Program, a caribou translocation project, and the Species at Risk Stewardship Program, to protect and recover caribou. Lakehead University is among the funding recipients, receiving over $24,000 to lead a project to monitor the genetic health of boreal caribou through DNA analysis.
Ontario continues to work on the conservation agreement with all partners in a way that balances protecting and recovering the species with the social and economic realities of Ontarians and industries in the north. In the first year of the Canada-Ontario agreement, the province began work to undertake boreal caribou monitoring. Work is underway to help improve understanding of the current population, distribution status and future trends of boreal caribou at a range-scale, in order to support recovery efforts, such as habitat restoration activities.
- Boreal caribou are listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, 2007. It is estimated that there are roughly 5,000 boreal caribou in Ontario.
- In Ontario, 140 provincial parks and conservation reserves collectively protect more than 11.2 million acres of caribou habitat – that’s roughly the size of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario combined.
- The Canada-Ontario Agreement for the Conservation of Caribou, Boreal Population in Ontario provides an overall framework for establishing collaborative commitments, including habitat planning, protection and restoration activities from both the federal and provincial governments to protect and recover boreal caribou.
- In 2022-23, Ontario and Canada invested more than $10 million in 2022-23 for the implementation of the agreement to undertake actions that support moving towards the maintenance or recovery of self-sustaining local populations of boreal caribou in Ontario, such as updating our state of knowledge on caribou and their habitat to inform habitat planning, protection and restoration activities.
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