The Boreal forest is very important in the world’s ecosystem. The forest stretches over 3,000 miles and is home to trees and wetlands that moderate our climate and purify the world’s air. According to the Canadian Boreal Initiative, it is one of the world’s largest intact forest ecosystems. It is the home of thousands of species of animal and insects, but one may be losing its habitat — the caribou.
The caribou or reindeer has already seen subspecies go extinct.
A memo was sent to Canada’s environment minister Peter Kent telling him that there is an elevated risk of the caribou disappearing after losing its home in the regions of the Boreal that surrounds oil sands developments in Alberta. Developers were meant to restore the habitat but the memo, signed by a deputy minister in the department, indicates that it could take decades to restore the area. By the time it happens, seven different types of caribou may have disappeared completely.
The Postmedia report indicates that the memo was sent to Kent as part of preparations for a lawsuit begun by environmental groups who claimed that the government was not enforcing the Species at Risk Act. Since the suit began in 2011, the government introduced Bill C-38 which further cut protection programs.
The memo, which was found through Access to Information, indicates that Kent opted to ignore indications that the Alberta caribou were at risk since there was no national-scale danger of extinction.
The big question is, if the caribou is losing its home in Alberta’s Boreal, then what will be next? The federal government is said to be reviewing the Species at Risk Act in an effort to strengthen it, but their environmental record does not leave a lot of room for optimism.
Photo Credit: Bruce McKay