Logging in mountain caribou habitat examined

VICTORIA – An investigation of timber harvesting within mountain caribou habitat near Blue River found that all licensees have met or exceeded the legal requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act and a legal order that applies to the area.

“We were pleased to find that the forestry, hydroelectric and adventure tourism industries all complied with requirements to protect caribou habitat,” said board chair Tim Ryan. “However, we were unable to comment on whether the legal requirements will benefit caribou populations in the long term because government’s effectiveness monitoring work is not yet far enough along.”

“There is some urgency in gaining a better understanding of whether the type and distribution of habitat will be effective for long-term caribou recovery,” said Ryan. “The board encourages government to place a high priority on developing and implementing its effectiveness monitoring initiatives.”

As part of its Mountain Caribou Recovery Implementation Plan, the B.C. government has issued nine legal orders for more than two million hectares of Crown land, which contain special restrictions for industrial and commercial recreational activities to protect mountain caribou habitat.

The board investigation examined one of the order areas –– Ungulate Winter Range Order U-3-004 –– and included all harvesting, road-building, heli-landing construction and other minor activities carried out between February 2009 and October 2014.

This area is used by the Wells Gray South and Groundhog caribou herds, both of which had more than a 60% decline in mature animals since 1995, and are now estimated at fewer than 150 animals. The population is projected to decline at least 40% within the next five years.

The Forest Practices Board is B.C.’s independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, reporting its findings and recommendations directly to the public and government. The board can investigate and report on current forestry and range issues and make recommendations for improvement to practices and legislation.

More information can be obtained by contacting:

Darlene Oman
Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250 213-4705 / 1 800 994-5899

December 17, 2015