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Ontario reveals details of $20M caribou conservation program

Groups can apply from now until Sept. 28 for funding from program meant to protect the province's endangered boreal caribou population

TORONTO — Ontario has revealed details of how it plans to spend up to $20 million to protect the province's endangered boreal caribou population.

Participants in a new caribou conservation stewardship program will receive about two-thirds of the $29 million the province announced in Thunder Bay last March for caribou preservation over a period of four years.

The funding will be available to non-profit organizations, Indigenous communities and other groups for activities such as on-the-ground habitat restoration and protection, monitoring and scientific research.

According a recent announcement from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, the program is one way Ontario is implementing an agreement it signed with the federal government which provides an overall framework for establishing collaborative commitments from both levels of government to protect caribou.

The announcement comes about two months after the federal government said the province must meet an April 2024 deadline, or face the prospect of a critical habitat protection order.

Details of what such an order might require have not been disclosed.

In announcing the stewardship program, Environment, Conservation and Parks Minister David Piccini said the province is making the largest single investment dedicated to caribou in Ontario's history.

"Caribou are integral to our province, and it is critical that we invest in activities that improve conditions for this iconic species," he said.

Examples of activities that could qualify for funding under the program include:

  • habitat management and restoration
  • conducting monitoring
  • reducing threats to caribou
  • research
  • gathering, sharing or incorporating local and Indigenous traditional knowledge

The application period is now open, and will expire on September 28, 2023.

Successful applicants will be announced in the spring of 2024.

The government stated that it is working "with all partners" to implement the Canada/Ontario agreement "in a way that balances protecting and recovering the species with the social and economic realities of people and industries in the north."

The Ontario Forest Industries Association has already expressed alarm over the potential contents of the threatened federal habitat protection order.


Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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