Across the boreal forests of Canada, “grey ghosts” have roamed for hundreds of years – woodland caribou. These elusive creatures seek out forest landscapes undisturbed by humans, but their numbers have plummeted over the decades as their habitats have been threatened.
In one pocket of eastern Canada, an unlikely partnership bloomed to address this vital issue head on. “Team Caribou”, envisioned by the global forestry company Rayonier Advanced Materials (RYAM – incorporating Tembec), unites diverse stakeholders with a vested interest in protecting woodland caribou habitat in Quebec’s Detour forest range.
In just two years, the team devised and proposed a new plan to protect the caribou habitat while respecting Indigenous Peoples’ rights and balancing the economic interests of the industry. Guiding this plan was the new FSC National Forest Management Standard, which requires forest managers to set woodland caribou habitat management strategies based on the best available science and risk tools. This includes minimizing the building of roads, harvesting outside caribou breeding and migration areas, and minimizing landscape disturbances by aligning forestry activities to nearby industrial activities.
Team Caribou is a shining example of how positive change flows from a committed group that shares a vision, negotiates in good faith, and is given the autonomy to impact change. Its caribou conservation plan will have lasting significance for the region’s forests and biodiversity – and is essential to sustaining what is required by the new Canadian FSC Forest Management standard.
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