Caribou need large areas of undisturbed land in which to roam freely. Mining, forestry, oil and gas, renewable energy and road building activities have all impacted caribou habitats in the Province. Fortunately, restoration work can improve disturbed habitats and erase some negative impacts of these activities. Restoring habitats will also help the Province meet federal caribou recovery disturbance thresholds set by the federal Species at Risk Act.
Two methods of habitat restoration hold the most promise in the province: functional and ecological restoration.
Functional restoration is aimed at reducing the use of linear features; roads, trails, rights-of-way, and seismic lines. Wolves, other large predators and people can move along these access routes more quickly than through dense bush, and easily travel to caribou habitats that were once difficult to reach.
The intent of functional restoration is to reduce caribou mortality in the short term, and to reduce the need for ongoing predator control. Any functional restoration would depend on collaboration with industry, the public and First Nations communities.
Restoration will include replanting routes that are no longer in use, placing slash, trees and other debris across trails, disrupting sightlines, and putting up fences. These actions will also restrict human access.
Ecological restoration refers to the regeneration of a disturbed ecosystem to its pre-disturbed state. Tree replanting, enhanced site work, controlling herbaceous species such as willow, and fertilization help speed up the ecological restoration of disturbed habitat.