Ontario Allowing Extinction of Caribou in the Province

Critical Caribou Habitat Logged Despite Commitment to Forest Protection in the North

The Ministry of Environment has decided to allow a controversial logging plan to proceed in caribou habitat despite the province's commitment to protect the northern boreal forest, and its species at risk, such as caribou. Environmental groups and individual citizens have requested that the Ministry of Environment conduct an Individual Environmental Assessment on logging in the Ogoki Forest, in order to determine the impact on caribou populations. The Ministry has decided to forego any environmental assessment, despite indication that logging could wipe out this species from the forest.

The Ogoki Forest, located in remote Northwestern Ontario, contains some of the province's last remaining intact habitat for the threatened Woodland Caribou. Several environmental groups have been strongly opposed to this plan as it calls for intensive road-building and logging in prime caribou habitat areas. Despite the groups' pleas and several months of discussions and consultations, the plan will now move ahead.

"It's an extremely disappointing decision," said Carly Armstrong, Earthroots Northern Forest Campaigner. "Premier McGuinty has promised protection for Ontario's northern boreal forest, and yet he's paving the way for the extinction of a caribou population just to the south."

The decision to veto the groups' requests for environmental assessment comes with a handful of conditions that Armstrong explains are "weak and do not begin to address our concerns." She is not confident that caribou will be able to tolerate the massive clearcuts that the Ministry of Environment has approved.

Earthroots fears that caribou preservation is not a priority in the province. "With forestry on a downturn, it's a perfect time to begin to shift our priorities. Let's move away from the destructive style of forestry that has taken unnecessary tolls not only on Woodland Caribou but also on our Northern communities," Armstrong explained. "We need to see strong leadership at all levels of government.  Unfortunately, the MoE is sending the message that caribou conservation is not a priority. We hope that the Premier will step in and rectify this situation."

An Earthroots report, released today, explains many of the problems with forestry in Ontario's boreal forest, including the current exemption of forestry to the province's new Endangered Species Act. "The ESA changes the context for forestry in Ontario and will require forest management plans to take a much more active role in caribou conservation. We were hoping to have more concessions for caribou with this decision but instead we are left with business as usual while caribou numbers continue to dwindle."

To view a copy of Earthroots' new report, Forest Managment in Ogoki: Compromising Caribou Conservation, please click here:

icon Forest Managment in Ogoki: Compromising Caribou Conservation (2.23 MB) 

For more information contact Carly Armstrong, Earthroots Forest Campaigner, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 705-856-0084.

To learn more about Earthroots' campaign to protect Woodland Caribou and the Ogoki Forest, please click here.  If you haven't done so already, please send a letter to the Minister of Natural Resources through our free fax action centre.  Keep informed about any new developments with this issue by checking our website regularly or by joining our Wilderness Defenders email list.