Caribou Val d’or : a sad, but wise decision

Caribous de Val-d’Or : une triste, mais sage décision

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The government of Quebec is going to leave the caribou in Val-d’or disappear. This gesture may at first seem insensitive. But, on the contrary, it is a conscious decision and be reasonable when analyzing the problem, taking into account all the actors concerned, and not only of the caribou.

According to a preliminary report on the viability of the caribou in Val-d’or, published last week by the ministry of Forests, Fauna and Parks, the cost of restoration of the habitat of those caribou, the follow-up of their population as well as economic losses for the region represent about 50 years of age, a bill of $ 76 million. That is an average of $ 1.5 million per year, a cost considered too high compared to the probability of saving these caribou.

“We believe that it is better to put our efforts on the 7000 other caribou in Quebec where we still have a good chance of success “, said the responsible minister Luc Blanchette.

The right approach

Québec adopts the right approach for the case of Val-d’or and should do the same for the other regions concerned. Recall that the full application of the requirements of Ottawa concerning the recovery plan for the caribou forest would considerably reduce the volumes of wood available for harvest in Quebec.

This could result in the loss of 740 million dollars for the forest industry and put at risk nearly 5700 jobs in Quebec, only Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, Côte-Nord and Nord-du-Québec.

And why would we put all those jobs at risk? To save – may-be – nearly 80 woodland caribou per year. In other words, we would have had to sacrifice 72 jobs per year for the backup to be very uncertain of a single caribou, which represents a cost of $ 9.4 million by caribou potentially saved.

This may be justified if one is an environmental activist concerned of the costs. But from the point of view of workers, enterprises and hundreds of the villages that are solely dependent on this sector, it makes no sense. However, it appears that precisely in the Act the species at risk act emphasizes that the aspects of ” socio-economic communities should be taken into account when developing and implementing recovery measures “.

The environment, the social and the economy

It is logical, therefore, that a recovery plan for the woodland caribou takes into account the environment, social and economy, which are the three components of sustainable development. In practical terms, this means targeting the forests, where the survival of the woodland caribou is the most likely to limit the impact on local communities, heavily dependent on the forest industry.

We have stressed in the past that targeted efforts to protect the woodland caribou habitat in locations where populations have the highest probability of survival is most effective, because it limits the economic impacts of these efforts. In the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, in particular, this would increase the economic cost of efforts for the protection of 261 to $86 million.

The government had the responsibility to take into consideration the economic aspect in the folder of the caribou Val d’or, and this is what he has done. Conservation measures to protect biodiversity are already in place. We can only approve the decision of the government not to impose new constraints which would have resulted in disproportionate costs in relation to the objectives.

P.S. : ON this subject, see also our documentary of ten minutes on the forest, which shows the reality of the people on the ground and the importance of the forest industry to these communities.