In British Columbia, seven new projects will restore caribou habitat by undoing damage done by mining, oil and lumber companies

On July 16, 2020, with funding from the government of British Columbia, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation approved seven more projects that will help restore caribou habitat in the province, through the organization’s Caribou Habitat Restoration Fund.

This round of grants totals almost $1.1 million. The Province has committed $8.5 million over three years to the foundation to support this type of work.

Human activity, such as forestry, mining, oil and gas, and roadbuilding work, has altered and destroyed caribou habitat.

Examples of activities that help restore caribou habitat include planting trees to restore areas to a pre-disturbed state and blocking former roads and other linear features, such as seismic lines (corridors cleared of vegetation for oil and gas exploration), to reduce predator access.

For example, one of this year’s seven projects will expand on previous habitat restoration work done to benefit the Columbia North caribou herd near Revelstoke. With the support of a $33,217 grant, habitat is being restored along an 11.5-kilometre stretch of road in the area. Led by Yucwmenlúcwu, a Splatsin-owned resource management company, the project will add to the areas that were previously restored in the upper Bigmouth Valley north of Revelstoke.

Last year, the Yucwmenlúcwu project planted nearly 9,000 conifer seedlings along a five-kilometre stretch of road in the valley. The project team is actively monitoring the site to evaluate tree growth and survival and determine whether there have been any changes in the use of this land by caribou and other wildlife, including predators.

The Province initially provided $2 million to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation in April 2018 for a caribou habitat restoration program. It then committed another $6.5 million over three years as part of a multi-year agreement with the foundation. The goal is to rehabilitate areas that have been prioritized for caribou recovery efforts. The Province’s support of this grant program is part of an ongoing and multi-faceted approach to caribou recovery in British Columbia.

During its first public intake in 2019, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation funded 11 projects led by First Nations, government, industry and not-for-profit societies, worth about $1.2 million.

The B.C. government has committed $47 million over three years to build a comprehensive, science-based approach to protect and preserve B.C.’s 54 caribou herds. Its recovery program aims to restore this iconic Canadian species to a sustainable population.

Since its inception in 1981, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation has invested over $189 million in grants to support almost 3,000 conservation projects in B.C., with the goal of restoring, maintaining or enhancing native fish and wildlife populations and habitats.

Photo of caribou by Orna Wachman from Pixabay.

Learn more on the foundation’s website.

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