On June 20, 2019, then Environment Minister Phillips denied our request for a hearing even though Ontario agreed there was a viable alternative and that a comprehensive assessment on caribou is required. Ontario approved the more harmful option for boreal caribou making a mockery of environmental assessment. Wildlands will be monitoring next steps on ESA permitting carefully.
Wildlands’ comments on Wataynikaneyap’s Final Environmental Assessment Report are here.
Wildlands monitors new proposals for linear disturbances (e.g., roads or transmission lines) in the Boreal Forest because they are often the precursor to additional developments and open up new areas for industrial activities which in turn have ramifications for at risk wildlife such as forest dwelling woodland caribou.
Above: Map of proposed routes for new transmission lines in NW Ontario. Route 3a would tread along same corridor as Highway 599 which would pose least risk to caribou of the 6 options.
As a not-for-profit charity, we have been working in the public interest since 1968 to protect public lands and resources in Ontario. We have extensive knowledge of land use in Ontario and history of working with government, communities, scientists, the public and resource industries on progressive conservation initiatives. We have specific expertise with the impacts of industrial development on boreal forests and wildlife that depends on them.
Province-wide, Ontario has already lost 40-50% of its historic boreal caribou distribution. And local caribou populations here are facing high-risk situations. If conservation measures are not built into new development plans, then Ontario’s caribou could face the same fate as those in other provinces, like Alberta, where continuing industrial development pressures threaten to wipe out some local populations entirely.
The future for boreal woodland caribou in Ontario and across Canada is uncertain. Without effective habitat conservation and recovery measures, many of Canada’s caribou populations are in peril.
We need to be proactive and stop the expansion of industrial disturbances in their ranges and initiate recovery activities. And until more is known about how to manage successfully the industrial footprint the line should be held on expansion of disturbance into new northern intact areas.
Governments need to take into account the cumulative disturbance of ranges when reviewing new industrial activities in caribou country.
You can help by learning more about boreal caribou in Ontario.