Fast facts on the woodland caribou and the Boreal Forest:

Publication - October 1, 2010
Fast facts on the woodland caribou and the Boreal Forest:
  • Woodland caribou are among the 20 species of the world’s large mammals that have experienced the greatest documented range retraction in the past several centuries.
  • The caribou population in Ontario's Boreal Forest is believed to number fewer than 20,000 animals.
  • A study has found that caribou are declining by 11 per cent a year in northeastern Ontario, cutting their numbers in half about every seven years.
  • The federal government lists the woodland caribou as a threatened species. A study by the Wildlands League, based on federal government science, says seven of nine Ontario woodland caribou populations are no longer self-sustaining.
  • In Ontario, the range of woodland caribou has receded approximately 34 kilometres (km) per decade, a clear sign of widespread range collapse and population decline.
  • An average herd of woodland caribou requires 9,000 square kms (5,592 square miles) of undisturbed wilderness, an area larger than most parks in Canada, and at least a 12-km (7.5 mile) buffer between its habitat and forest operations to survive.
  • Caribou continue to be particularly crucial for people of First Nations living off the taiga and tundra. The great migratory herds there are, even today, valued at more than $100 million per year in meat value alone. It would be impossible to place a dollar value on the broader cultural significance of caribou.
  • Canada’s Boreal Forest is 545 million hectares, or 5.45 million square kms (1.3 billion acres). It encompasses almost 53 per cent of Canada’s total landmass, and includes 90 per cent of Canada’s remaining intact forest landscapes.
  • Around 41 per cent of the treed area of the Canadian Boreal Forest has been fragmented by logging or industrial development and 45 per cent has been allocated for logging.
  • Scientific evidence overwhelmingly concludes that intactness is a critical value to maintain in forest landscapes; it has been designated as a high conservation value that requires special management and protection within the Forest Stewardship Council’s National Boreal Standards.  Such intact forests are internationally recognized definition of Endangered Forests.

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