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Government implements interim moratorium to protect caribou

Government is protecting critical caribou habitat in the South Peace region by imposing an interim moratorium on new industrial activities. The moratorium on new resource development is in areas critical to caribou recovery. The areas are in the vicinity of MacKenzie, Tumbler Ridge and Chetwynd, and are consistent with Zone A2 and B3 within the Draft Caribou Recovery Partnership Agreement.

The order under Section 7 of the Environment and Land Use Act will prevent new authorizations with regard to Section 12 of the Coal Act, Section 10 of the Mines Act and Section 25 of the Oil and Gas Activities Act. In short, it will prevent new authorizations with regard to these acts that would be detrimental to caribou and caribou habitat in the moratorium area.

The order under Part 13 of the Forest Act allows the minister to take specific action within this area. The order precludes the issuance of permits associated with harvesting of trees and construction of roads. Road construction will be allowed only to facilitate harvesting of already issued cutting permits or timber sales licences. The area associated with this order represents 734,410 hectares of land, including approximately 120,000 hectares of Timber Harvesting Land Base over three management units: Dawson Timber Supply area (TSA), Mackenzie TSA and Tree Farm Licence 48.

The moratorium provides habitat protection for caribou while the important work with First Nations on long-term caribou management continues. In addition, it will provide more time for engagement with local municipalities, the Peace River Regional District, industrial operators in the area and other stakeholders, with the aim of recovering caribou populations while maintaining community economic stability. The moratorium will be in place until June 20, 2021, or until it is repealed. A map of the interim moratorium areas, Zones A2 and B3, is available online:

Caribou timelines

2003 – Southern mountain caribou designated as “threatened” under the federal Species at Risk Act.  

2014 – Federal government posts a recovery strategy for southern mountain caribou. Plan requires provinces to create range plans for each caribou range in their jurisdiction.

2014 – Federal update from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada finds that central mountain caribou are still in decline and measures are not in place to halt the decline.

2017 – Federal government receives multiple petitions under the Species at Risk Act for action to address threat to caribou. British Columbia commences negotiations for development of a Section 11 Conservation Agreement to avoid a federal emergency order.

2018 – Focused negotiations with West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations. April to June engagement on B.C.’s Caribou Recovery Program.

May 2018 – Federal minister of the environment and climate change determined that southern mountain caribou faced an “imminent threat” to recovery in 10 local population units across British Columbia. Determination requires consideration of an emergency order by the federal cabinet.

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