Safety Net Will Finally Be Used to Protect the Woodland Caribou

Montreal, April 12, 2022 – Faced with the government of Québec’s refusal to protect the woodland caribou critical habitat on its territory, the government of Canada is getting ready to use the Species at Risk Act (SARA) safety net provision for the first time in its history. The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS Québec) supports the federal government’s intent to act by order and invites both governments to collaborate to ensure the timely implementation of protection measures.

“Given the lack of effective protection on a large portion of the woodland caribou’s critical habitat in Québec, the government of Canada has the legitimacy to use the Species at Risk Act safety net provision,” explains Alain Branchaud, Executive Director at CPAWS Québec. “Québec does not listen to science on this file. Yet, it has for a long time known the recipe to halt this species’ decline, to support its recovery and to protect its critical habitat.”

Acting Now

CPAWS Québec believes that a federal order aimed at protecting the woodland caribou critical habitat would cover more than 35 000 km2, representing 2.3% of Québec’s territory. “This is a rare occasion to achieve two goals at once and also contribute significantly to the 30% protection target that both governments have committed to,” adds Pier-Olivier Boudreault, Director of Conservation at CPAWS Québec.

In response to this action announced by the federal government, CPAWS Québec recommends that the Québec government enhance its collaboration with First Nations and stakeholders, and to implement protection measures rapidly.

A Snowball Effect

This use of the Species at Risk Act safety net measure will be a first in Canada. “This decision will have significant impacts on caribou protection elsewhere in Canada as well as for hundreds of species at risk awaiting the protection of their critical habitat,” concludes Alain Branchaud.

In 2018, CPAWS won its appeal to force the assessment of the critical habitat protection measures as required by the Species at Risk Act. Today’s use of the safety net provision would not be possible without this gain obtained by our organisation.

The federal government’s intention to act is made public as the Independent Commission on Woodland and Mountain Caribou carried out by the Québec government begins. This Commission is perceived by many actors as a strategy to delay once more the implementation of protection measures.

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Learn more about the actions of CPAWS Québec for the protection of woodland caribou (in French).


SNAP Québec
Ingrid Cornec
Cell: 514-378-3880
[email protected]