Alberta is home to abundant wild species, rich biodiversity and immense ecological heritage. This is something we sometimes take for granted.
In the past few decades a few things have become apparent when it comes to the environment. We need to make sure we are balancing activities on our landscapes, we need to have plans in place to lay the foundations of work to conserve and protect, and we need to work together to achieve the best possible outcomes for our wild species.
An example of this is the work being done to protect Canada’s woodland caribou. In Alberta, caribou ranges cover about 23 per cent of the landscape, with 15 ranges falling under provincial jurisdiction. All woodland caribou in the province are designated as Threatened under both the federal Species at Risk Act and provincial Wildlife Act.
Caribou are an umbrella species, meaning that conserving and managing caribou habitat also greatly benefits a large number of other species, including mammals, fish, birds, insects and plants by providing them with a healthy shared landscape. In Alberta, woodland caribou are distributed throughout our boreal forest, which when undisturbed provides important ecosystem services, such as air and water filtration, and helps mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration.
There are also economic reasons to protect caribou habitat. Under the Federal Recovery Strategies, if Alberta doesn’t take satisfactory action, the federal government has the authority to take over management decisions from the province. This could potentially halt industrial activity in caribou ranges, stranding resources, reducing future investment and economic benefits and jobs.
Without effective and immediate action to conserve and manage caribou habitat, we run the risk of losing this important species, which is why Alberta Environment and Parks is working with other ministries, municipalities, industry, Indigenous peoples, the federal government and the public to help caribou populations recover across the province.
Alberta’s Draft Provincial Woodland Caribou Range Plan is a made-in-Alberta approach that will help us recover our remaining caribou populations and habitat while protecting jobs and local economies. It will help us move towards working landscapes where carefully managed industrial activity can co-exist with caribou.
Successful caribou recovery requires that everyone works together. We want a made-in-Alberta solution developed with the help and expertise of Albertans. To be successful we need your input on the draft provincial range plan. You can submit feedback and find out more about public information sessions being held in communities throughout caribou range areas at TalkAEP.alberta.ca.