Weyerhaeuser is hoping to work out a Caribou Range Plan with the province that isn’t so rigid.
The company’s Manager of Forestry Stewardship Wendy Crosina believes what is proposed right now will not work for every province or region.
“What constrains us is the Species at Risk Act and the Federal Recovery Strategies. The Species at Risk Act says we have a recovery strategy for caribou and these are the metrics you have to meet. There is not a lot of flexibility in there and if you don’t meet those metrics, you run the risk of a legal challenge,” explained Crosina.
“The metric is a 35-percent disturbance. We think we can maintain caribou on the landscape with a different number than the 35-percent.”
According to the manager, the disturbance calculation includes roads, pipelines, cut-blocks, and 500-metres around those areas that would be in caribou habitat. She says the metric that works in Labrador or Northern Ontario, won’t be the same fit for the Grande Prairie area.
“We think that we can come up with a situation or a plan that maintains our fibre supply, so we still remain viable, maintains caribou on the land, and satisfies the requirements of the Species at Risk Act.”
Although industry partners aren’t sure what that looks like, Crosina says a “win-win-win” scenario is in the works.
She says the forestry industry needs local municipalities to go to bat for them with the province.
“We would like folks in the community and folks like the (city) council, MD (of Greenview), and the county to start talking about the importance of forestry from a socioeconomic perspective; in terms of jobs and the money that it generates for the community and start to advocate for the sector, and industry in general.”
An open-house event put on by Alberta Environment and Parks is being held at the Elks Hall in Grande Prairie on March 8, 2018. They will be engaging the public on the Draft Provincial Woodland Caribou Range Plan.
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