CPAWS Caribouandyou! Campaign

by Aran O'Carroll

In 2005, CPAWS established its ambitious, ten-year nationally-coordinated conservation plan. The plan set out CPAWS vision to keep at least half of Canada's public land and water wild forever. In 2005, this vision seemed boldly ambitious for Canada's largest terrestrial biome – the Boreal forest. The Boreal programme, as described in the 2005 conservation plan, drew CPAWS ten-Boreal chapters and the national-office together in a coordinated campaign to press for 50+% conservation of the Boreal and identified Canada' remnant population of wild, forest-resident Caribou as the flagship of the campaign. Concerns for the survival of the iconic Caribou informed and propelled the tremendous successes that CPAWS and its sister organizations went on to secure through the Boreal campaign, including the expansion of Nahanni National Park, Ontario's Far North initiative, Quebec's Plan Nord, and ultimately the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. What was central to generating the conservation leverage that Caribou now represents in the Canadian Boreal was CPAWS nationally-coordinated Caribouandyou social-media campaign and nationally-coordinated, federal/provincial advocacy on species at risk policy.

As part of this work, I had the great privilege to represent CPAWS and the Canadian conservation community as the elected co-chair with the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) of a national advisory group to Environment Canada on survival and recovery measures for Boreal Caribou. One of my proudest moments, was seeing the federal government produce, in no small way as a result of CPAWS focussed advocacy, including the engagement of tens of thousands of CPAWS members via Caribouandyou, and the collaborative input of FPAC, CPAWS and others, a science-based National Recovery Strategy for Boreal Caribou that at law describes nearly 50% of the Boreal and virtually all remaining intact forest in the Boreal as "critical habitat" necessary for the survival and recovery of the species. Nearing the tenth year of CPAWS 2005 conservation plan, it is remarkable to look back on the successes of the Boreal programme - the results of CPAWS fine-tradition of ambitious, strategic, nationally-coordinated, engaging and collaborative campaigning. The momentum and precedents that CPAWS has helped to set for Boreal conservation with CPAWS tenacious focus seem destined to lead to the establishment of significant new protected areas and the conservation of remaining wilderness throughout Boreal Canada in the years to come.