5.2 Habitat Restoration



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.

We will explore partnerships with groups inside and outside of government to carry out this work.

41 responses to “5.2 Habitat Restoration

    User avatar
    [-] Sally

    Restoration appears to be in the hands of Nature Trust, BC Nature, Land Conservancy. I’ve NEVER encountered the government doing anything.

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    [-] Alexander

    This statement says it all. Protect habitat first and above all else.

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    [-] Alexander

    Habitat restoration means biodiversity and ecological considerations. Too often the mono-culture tree replanting has destroyed ungulate habitat due to a lack of biodiversity, while providing a more profitable resource for forestry.

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    [-] Alexander

    Predator control is a regrettable, but necessary emergency measure which must continue until high quality habitat can regrow and remain protected in perpetuity.

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    [-] Bryce

    Restoring habitat? Sure things can be done to restore habitat like de-activate roads, & replanting cut blocks, but seismic lines, gas & oil pipelines need to be maintained & therefore won't ever be "restored". In the case of high elevation habitat that has been logged, that takes decades to be restored back to good caribou habitat. In the mean time, it will support many times more prey species & their predators, ultimately to the detriment of the caribou.

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    [-] Bryce

    Can't agree more with Alexander's comments.
    "Habitat restoration means biodiversity and ecological considerations. Too often the mono-culture tree replanting has destroyed ungulate habitat due to a lack of biodiversity, while providing a more profitable resource for forestry."

    User avatar
    [-] Richard

    My comment mainly has to do with the highly restricted access of ungulates to interior forests that have been impacted by the result of mountain pine beetle. Moose, Caribou (et-al) cannot move freely within these highly decomposed forests. They resemble a spider web of blown down timber with a high degree of breakage. Animals cannot find sanctuary from the interior's deep freeze through what once were thermal layers from exposure and I'm not sure if epiphytes are available to sustain them. My estimation is that the value of this habitat has been irrevocably altered by mountain pine beetle and they are forced out into the open where their scent carries further and visual acuity to predators in increased.

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    [-] Carolee

    "Linear features" also include snowmobile trails.

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    [-] Carolee

    I agree with the first commenter that habitat restoration is the crux of the matter.

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    [-] Danny

    Sorry but I don't think habitat is meant to be stagnant. All to often we focus on what Caribou USE TO like and be in. Habitat is forever changing and if we think that by preserving it, the Caribou will thrive, we are going to loose this battle. I have also seen Caribou in farmer's fields and in open cutblocks, so animals do adapt.

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    [-] Tara

    Caribou's main food source is lichen; only found in "old growth" forests and on the ground in some forested areas. We must protect undisturbed OLD GROWTH forests from logging indefinitely in order to restore caribou habitat. We can restore lands as best as possible but we can never restore old growth forests. These forests must be protected. So many species rely on a healthy old growth forest for survival. Please stop logging them, we have so little left.

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    [-] Tara

    Wolves and predators are a small fraction of the problem. Humans must be considered and accepted as the first and largest problem in order to recover this species. The sooner we accept full responsibility, the sooner we can get to work

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    [-] Tara

    First Nation communities will be a key partner in restoring the iconic species. Lobbyists for industry groups on this issue are a great concern and I hope this type of partnership is not considered due to the nature of their interests

    User avatar
    [-] Onni

    Several years ago, I saw a BBC documentary that described how the "Green Zone" between East/West Europe had returned to its natural state because of lack of human access for years. With no human intervention in this area, animals had returned. The moral of the story – GET HUMANS OUT OF THE PICTURE AND MOTHER NATURE WILL DO JUST FINE WITHOUT US!

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    [-] Cathy

    "Restoration" work should be wary of the use of "biosolids" (sewage sludge) which may also be used in the soil (plugs) of re-planted seedlings. Soil made from "biosolids" (sewage sludge) and very commonly used by nurseries can contain infectious prions (which can also be up-taken into plants)

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    [-] Randy

    They need old growth forest only time can restore this critical habitat.This takes hundreds of years.Their is no quick fix and maybe no fix at all.You have no habitat left to protect.

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    [-] Randy

    Give your head a shake! It takes hundreds of years of no disturbance to recreate the habitat these animals need to survive.

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    [-] Randy

    Access has always been a problem.Unfortunately all it gets is lip service.Back in the 70s and 80s there was a big push by all stake holders to start putting roads back to bed.Not just ditch but to actually totally destroy the road and restore it to forest.This went out the window as there was always an excuse to keep roads open IE we are going to log there again ,we want it for fire access ect.Total joke on access management.
    Do like l Alberta has started to do in log cuts in caribou habitat.As soon as the targeted trees are cut and hauled out the roads are totally destroyed for the total length.This is done even before the slash piles are burned or the area is replanted.People doing the reforestation have to use snowmachines,ATVS and backpacks to do the work.

    User avatar
    [-] Bronwen

    Ecological restoration is a key part of recovery, but it is also long-term, expensive and time-consuming.
    What is needed now is protection of existing habitat, with goals for restoration to help recover caribou
    in the future.
    Adequate investment in restoration is also needed. The province should seek additional financial
    support from the federal government to support investment for recovery, in consultation with First
    Nations. Restoration plans should be funded for the long term and supervised by independent scientists
    and Indigenous knowledge holders.

    User avatar
    [-] Maryann

    Ecological restoration is a key part of recovery, but it is also long-term, expensive and time-consuming. What is needed now is protection of existing habitat, with goals for restoration to help recover caribou in the future.
    Adequate investment in restoration is also needed. The province should seek additional financial support from the federal government to support investment for recovery, in consultation with First Nations. Restoration plans should be funded for the long term and supervised by independent scientists and Indigenous knowledge holders.

    User avatar
    [-] Shannon

    Ecological restoration is a key part of recovery, but it is also long-term, expensive and time-consuming. What is needed now is protection of existing habitat, with goals for restoration to help recover caribou in the future.
    Adequate investment in restoration is also needed. The province should seek additional financial support from the federal government to support investment for recovery, in consultation with First Nations. Restoration plans should be funded for the long term and supervised by independent scientists and Indigenous knowledge holders.

    Yes, get the Feds involved. They print money with a caribou featured and its a distinct abuse of a symbol of Canada if not protected across the nation.

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    [-] Steve

    I strongly favour protection of all native plants and animals in BC.

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    [-] Jane

    Adequate investment in restoration is needed. Protection of existing habitat with goals to hep recover caribou in the future. Restoration plans should be funded for the long term and supervised by independent scientists and Indigenous knowledge holders.

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    [-] Cori

    Restoration is something only mother nature can do. We can fiddle around the edges and replant, recontour, etc., but the diverse plant community, structure and function of the forest cannot be put back. We must protect what little old growth is left. These areas hold answers to questions that we are not yet wise enough to ask.
    We must try to pull out roads, keep people and predators away etc., but we are fooling ourselves if we think that is enough. We still have vestiges of a landscape that European countries have not seen in centuries. Will we wait until it is all gone to ask whether someone should have had the vision to protect it?

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    [-] Jan

    Long term government funding and supervision for restoration is absolutely necessary but maintaining old growth takes a priority to restoration because it is the best habitat of caribou.

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    [-] Quinn

    Protect the caribou habitat that still exists. Stop mining, resource extraction, development, etc.

    Then put some resources and effort into restoring lost habitat. Connect fragmented areas and enhance areas that have been marginalized.

    Make it happen!

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    [-] Christina

    I agree with Maryann. Ecological recovery is necessary, but what is most urgently needed is the protection of existing habitat, and the ecological restoration needs to be properly funded to work.

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    [-] CL

    This is a matter of scale. The province must commit to, and carry out, enough habitat restoration to make a difference. Small scale projects, although effectively politically are not going to save caribou. Habitat restoration needs to be effective and large-extent to make a dint.

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    [-] Paula

    Protection of existing habitat is more important; it will help with caribou recovery more rapidly and be less expensive, compared to habitat restoration.
    However, in the long term, habitat restoration is also a worthwhile goal, if done properly.

    User avatar
    [-] Yvonne

    Emphasis should be placed on protection of existing habitat rather than ecological restoration of habitat. Restoration is expensive and may not be done quickly enough to save the species. The province should seek financial support from the federal government for protection and restoration. This work must be done in consultation with First Nations and supervised by independent scientists and Indigenous knowledge holders.

    User avatar
    [-] SB

    Old Growth Forrest is crucial for Caribou habitat and protection. This takes hundreds of years to restore. All old growth should be immediately protected.

    User avatar
    [-] Alex

    Get rid of the roads before the public gets attached to them. They must be decommissioned in a way that is proven to reduce predator, esp. wolf movements. Vegetation regeneration may not be enough.

    User avatar
    [-] Jennifer

    There must be long-term sources of funding for restoration of caribou habitat to occur properly and for long enough, as restoration is a key part of caribou recovery. The Province of BC should seek additional funding from the Federal Government to support this in the long term, and this work should be done in collaboration with, and supervised by, Indigenous knowledge holders and independent scientists.

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    [-] Erin

    Don't these 2 methods of restoration work best when applied together? Restricting line access serves the dual purpose of preventing human/predator use AND allowing the ecosystem to regenerate (whether naturally or through active restoration). Active restoration is expensive, but natural regeneration often replaces mature forests stands with early seral vegetation that attracts caribou competitors (and in turn, their predators).
    Ultimately, restoration efforts should take into account a) surrounding landscape composition and configuration and b) community dynamics of the overall ecosystem

    User avatar
    [-] Erin

    Ecological restoration needs to also account for changing climates: pre-disturbance thresholds may not be viable outcomes in the future, and restored areas, following regeneration, may no longer be suitable for caribou.

    User avatar
    [-] Matt

    Two methods hold the most promise…. for Caribou? I hope.

    User avatar
    [-] Disa

    While ecological restoration is a key part of recovery, it is also long-term, expensive and time-consuming. What is urgently required is protection of existing habitat, before it is lost or compromised. A longer term goal would be restoration of caribou habitat, to further support recovery efforts.

    Adequate investment in restoration is also needed. The province should seek additional financial contributions from the federal government to support investment for recovery, in consultation with First Nations. Restoration plans should be funded for the long term and supervised by independent scientists and Indigenous knowledge holders.

    User avatar
    [-] Trevor

    As a lichenologist with a fair understanding of the distributional ecology of the hair lichens that sustain most Deep-Snow Mountain Caribou herds for up to 150 to 180 days each year, I am frankly appalled at how little attention has been given to the incontrovertible fact that: (1) every oldgrowth stand lost today neither will nor can sustain hair lichen biomass sufficient to the winter foraging needs for 120 to 150 years; (2) the loss of winter hair lichen forage greatly exceeds that of the areal extent of the clearcuts themselves, i.e., not counting the reluctance of DSC to spend time near clearcuts and other large-scale industrial activities; and (3) incremental habitat loss through corporate forestry has already loaded winter starvation into the system, especially for 'core herds' in deep-snow portions of the range. It is my view that the near-exclusive focus of most caribou biologists on top-down stressors has come at great cost to DSC. These people seem not to have grasped the concept of cumulative impacts. The fact that the early and middle stages of DSC habitat loss have manifested primarily through apparent competition tells us nothing about how the later stages of habitat loss will manifest. Starvation is the new iceberg on the horizon, yet tragically everybody's too busy killing predators and penning caribou cows to notice the inevitable.

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    [-] Victor

    A threshold for landscape-level management should be legislated. Linear features (roads) should be decommissioned as part of licenee’s obligations to ensure these targets are met

    User avatar
    [-] Tom

    What about loss of lichens and increase of moss after tree harvesting? Both arboreal and terrestrial lichens are lost and the delay of any effort to "recover" them has a significant time implications. Not thinkin' it can be done on the short-term, if it can be done at all.

    User avatar
    [-] Mark

    Habitat restoration targets must be established in legislation and the costs shared by industry and government.

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