Conservation Minister Stan Struthers congratulated the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and Tembec forestry corporation for negotiating a 50-year halt to logging in woodland caribou habitats on the east side of Lake Winnipeg.
"This government wholeheartedly supports this move to protect the important caribou habitat which is critical to maintaining populations of this threatened species," said Struthers. "Protecting our province's boreal forests is the key to caribou survival and to ensuring we keep Manitoba pristine for future generations."
Manitoba's woodland caribou population is estimated to be between 1,800 and 3,100 animals. Last year, woodland caribou was listed as a threatened species under the Manitoba Endangered Species Act.
The 26,000-hectare area that cannot be harvested is the winter core zone of the Owl Lake woodland caribou herd. A 50-year halt to forestry operations in the area will provide security for the herd's habitat while allowing ongoing research to identify more about the survival needs of this threatened species.
The Owl Lake woodland caribou herd is located in Manitoba's southernmost caribou range. The Manitoba government recognizes major threats to the caribou such as habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation. Woodland caribou are an indicator species of boreal forest health. Where there are caribou, there are intact robust boreal forests. When the caribou are gone, it's a clear sign the ecology of that forest has been severely damaged, said Struthers.
The minister also congratulated Tembec on its recent Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for its forestry practices on Forest Management Licence 1, a 900,000-hectare public forest licence in eastern Manitoba. This is the first forest in the province of Manitoba to be audited and certified in accordance with the stewardship council's National Boreal Standard.
The stewardship council is an international certification and labelling system that guarantees that forest products with the FSC label come from responsibly-managed forests and verified recycled sources.