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Enough is Enough: Crees and Conservation Group Call for Moratorium on Forestry Development in the Ha

  • Published on Apr 30 2009 |
  • This article is tagged as: caribou

Nemaska - The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS – Québec) are jointly demanding an immediate halt in forestry development in the habitat of vulnerable woodland caribou, until their common concerns can be addressed by Québec. The call comes following last week’s release of the provincial woodland caribou recovery strategy, published three years behind schedule by the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune (MRNF). The strategy proposes actions to recover caribou populations, with the objective of “maintaining current caribou distribution throughout Québec”. Ironically, MRNF is now preparing to approve a series of major roads and logging operations in some of the last virgin forests of the Cree territory – an area of important woodland caribou habitat that both Crees and environmental groups agree must be protected.

Exceptional ecosystems

The area targeted for the moratorium, in the vicinity of the Broadback River and Lake Evans (see attached map), is a critically important sector of virgin boreal forest thus far spared by industrial development. These intact forests are needed to maintain biodiversity and fully functional forest ecosystems, including habitat for threatened woodland caribou. According to Patrick Nadeau, Forest Program Manager at CPAWS – Québec: “Research has shown that large blocks of undisturbed forests are critical to the survival of woodland caribou and this area is among the most promising for the protection of woodland caribou in the province. We have been actively campaigning to see this territory included in a “caribou belt” formed by large interconnected protected areas”.

Reckless development

Bill Namagoose, Executive Director of the Grand Council of the Crees explains: “Québec is pushing the clearcutting of more forest ahead of its legal commitments for the protection of vulnerable species.  In the past two weeks, Federal and Provincial wildlife authorities have confirmed that this habitat must be protected—these findings are however being swept aside to fast-track forestry road construction so that the companies can benefit from a temporary subsidy programme that covers 90% of their construction costs. Given the current turmoil in the forestry industry with sales of wood and production way down, it makes no sense to fast track these roads against the recommendations of Federal and Provincial wildlife departments.”

The path forward

A moratorium on forestry development should be maintained in the targeted sector until the government is able to demonstrate that adequate measures have been put in place to ensure the long-term protection of woodland caribou habitat in the Crees’ territory.  Québec must also consider the intact forests of Eeyou Istchee as a priority in reaching its objective of protecting 50% of the northern boreal region of the province.

The Grand Council of the Crees and CPAWS – Québec continue to believe that sustainable forestry is necessary and achievable on Cree territory. However, both are resolved to support the targeted moratorium on forestry until they can be assured that the last intact forests of Eeyou Istchee will not be developed recklessly as currently planned.

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For more information:

Bill Namagoose, Executive Director, GCC(EI) (613) 761-1655       

Romeo Saganash, Director of Quebec Relations, GCC(EI)  (incl. French inquiries) (418) 564-1598

Sophie Paradis, Director of Communications, CPAWS – Québec (514) 278-7627 x 221