11 People With Extraordinary Power Over the Future of One Threatened Species

by Amy Moas

August 4, 2017

Many will not know much about the Woodland Caribou, and only a very few will have seen this animal in person. But this unique member of the deer family, found in Canada’s boreal forest, is a remarkable animal and it is threatened with extinction, while a small group of powerful people have enormous influence over its fate.

© Dave Taylor / Greenpeace

Why are Woodland Caribou so special?

Woodland Caribou are an iconic species that hold national significance for many Canadians, even being shown on the 25-cent coin.  They have adapted to harsh winter weather, have large hooves that act like snowshoes, and are able to survive largely on lichen – a ground organism made up of fungus and algae. They require large tracts of undisturbed natural forest to survive; and because of this, they are often seen as an indicator species for the health of the entire boreal forest. As logging and other industrial activities have further and further disturbed the forest, Woodland Caribou have been suffering.

The Canadian government has promised to protect this threatened species for more than a decade and recently gave provinces a deadline of October 5, 2017 to establish range recovery plans that would protect this species’ critical habitat based on clear Federal science and, in many cases, improve their conditions in order to ensure the Woodland Caribou’s survival. The first key deadline for action is in just 63 days.

Who are the people deciding the fate of the Caribou and the forest?

There are 11 people from provincial governments, logging companies, and corporations buying forest products from these loggers that have extraordinary power in the next 63 days to determine the future of Woodland Caribou and the huge tracts of beautiful intact forest they call home.

Let’s meet them.

Kathleen Wynne – Premier of Ontario and Philippe Couillard – Premier of Québec. As the government heads of two provinces with well over a hundred million hectares of intact forest and more than 15 officially recognized herds of Woodland caribou between them, ultimately Premiers Wynne and Couillard will have to ensure their provinces live up to their responsibilities to protect this threatened species.

Kathryn McGarry – Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Ontario and Luc Blanchette  – Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks, Québec. These two are the czars of what happens inside forests in Ontario and Québec. As the two provinces with the largest area of Woodland Caribou habitat, many are looking to them for leadership. They determine how much forest is harvested, how much forest is protected, and the regulations that logging companies must follow in order to ensure their forest products are not irreparably harming threatened species.

Richard Garneau – Chief Executive Officer, Resolute Forest Products. As one of the largest forestry companies in Canada, Garneau has overseen the destruction of thousands of hectares of Intact Forest Landscapes within the forests they manage in Ontario alone. And Eight of the 10 herds of caribou present within Resolute’s operations have experienced more disturbance to their habitat than government scientists consider viable for the caribou’s survival. Garneau’s corporate policies have the ability to either safeguard these animals or to continue to chip away at their survival.  See Greenpeace Report “Clearcutting Free Speech” for more information on Resolute Forest Products’ operations and what the company can do to protect Woodland Caribou.

John D. Williams – Chief Executive Officer, Domtar. As one of the largest forestry companies in North America, Williams has an enormous footprint within the Canadian boreal forest.  Despite a less toxic approach to environmental organizations than Garneau, Williams continues to oversee increasing disturbance of caribou habitat, is delaying sustainability certification in some forest areas and has yet to publicly support regulatory solutions based in Federal science aimed at protecting Woodland Caribou.

Michael Defazio – Vice President of Paper Purchasing and Production Planning, Penguin Random House. Erin Crum – Vice President Corporate Communications, HarperCollins. Adam Rothberg – Senior Vice President Corporate Communications, Simon & Schuster. John Sargent – Chief Executive Officer, Macmillan.

Greenpeace Campaigners Amy Moas and Shane Moffatt bring the “Our Voices Are Vital” message to the Penguin Random House Publishing offices in New York. Greenpeace delivered to publishers the voices of more than 500,000 people around the world who are asking them to stand up for free speech and the Canadian boreal forest.

Four of the largest global book publishers have all made promises to their readers to only use environmentally friendly paper when making your favorite books. However, these companies are also actively associated with Resolute Forest Products’ destructive operations by buying substantial quantities of paper from the controversial logger. These publishers have a choice – keep their heads in the sand or roll up their sleeves and work with both Resolute and government officials to ensure everyone is doing everything possible to safeguard Woodland Caribou. Ultimately it comes down to whether or not publishers will keep their promises to their readers that their books are sustainable and not harming magnificent forests and threatened species.

You. Your voice can ensure these powerful people can’t ignore their role in the fate of this threatened species. When hundreds of thousands of people stand up together, your voice is powerful for government officials you elect and corporations your purchase from. Take action to protect the Woodland Caribou and be a part of creating a world we are all proud to pass down to our children! Tweet your favorite publisher, or comment on their Facebook page, and ask them to  be a part of the solution!

Amy Moas

By Amy Moas

Amy Moas, Ph.D. is a senior forest campaigner for Greenpeace based in Las Vegas. She focuses on combating the drivers of deforestation around the world including palm oil, pulp and paper, and illegal logging.

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