WASWANIPI, QC, Dec. 16, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - In light of the just-released Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society's (CPAWS) third annual review of government action to conserve Canada's boreal woodland caribou, the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi calls upon the Quebec government to implement the Recovery Strategy for the Woodland Caribou and create protected areas on the last 10% of intact boreal forest on Waswanipi's territory.1
The CPAWS review shows that there are currently too few jurisdictions in Canada displaying leadership in protecting this endangered species. "The status of the woodland caribou is now a national crisis," says Marcel Happyjack, Chief of the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi, adding: "We cannot ignore that protected areas are needed."
Developments on the land have significantly disturbed the natural habitat of many species living in the boreal forest, including the woodland caribou, whose populations have declined and continue to do so. The CPAWS review indicates that the biggest threat to the caribous' survival is habitat fragmentation. As of today, 90% of Waswanipi's territory has already been logged or fragmented by forestry roads. The Cree First Nation of Waswanipi has already engaged in discussions with the Quebec government to create a protected area in the Broadback Forest, which represents the last 10% of intact boreal forest on Waswanipi ancestral land.
The CPAWS review points to the urgent need to implement caribou recovery plans across Canada. As stated in the report, although 5,000 km2 were already allocated as protected areas for the woodland caribou in Quebec, the conservation efforts are too slow to ensure the protection and recovery of this species because of ongoing industrial pressure. "5,000 km2 is not enough, since the Broadback Forest that needs protection covers another 4.536 km2," says Chief Happyjack.
Drawing knowledge from the new CPAWS report, the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi hope to see the Quebec Government respond promptly to the well-documented national issue of Woodland Caribou recovery. Because the federal Species at Risk Act states that all provinces and territories are required to have plans for recovery of woodland caribou populations by 2017, and as part of Quebec's Woodland Caribou recovery strategy, the Chief of Waswanipi reiterates the First Nation's request that the Quebec government protect the Broadback Forest.
SOURCE Cree First Nation of Waswanipi
For further information: Julie Ann Cooper, Interim Political Attaché, Office of the Chief, 614-800-7629, [email protected]