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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BC Government Announces Landmark Caribou Recovery Plan

Conservation groups applaud efforts to protect over five million acres of prime mountain caribou habitat

Conservation Northwest has worked for years to protect the critically endangered mountain caribou in BC's Inland Temperate Rainforest. Today protection was announced for 5 million acres of high quality habitat for caribou in BC.

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VICTORIA, BC Oct 16, 2007

A coalition of Canadian and US environmental groups say American businesses and citizens deserve credit for a major environmental victory announced today in British Columbia, Canada. An area 100 times the size of Seattle is being protected for mountain caribou, a trans-boundary species shared between Canada and the US that is one of North America's most endangered mammals.

Comparable to last year's Great Bear Rainforest agreement in scale, the recovery implementation plan commits the BC government to legislating protections from logging and road building on over five million acres in BC’s Inland Temperate Rainforest.

This total includes new and previously protected areas. Many areas partially protected under land-use plans will now be fully protected, and there will be approximately 1,000,000 acres of new protections.

The Inland Temperate Rainforest is one of the only regions on earth outside of the tropics where such extensive coastal forest attributes occur so far from any marine influence. These “wet belt” forests are home to grizzly bears, goshawks, prodigious salmon runs and the only place in the world where mountain caribou live.

“Mountain caribou and the Inland Temperate Rainforest are globally unique and transcend our political borders,” said Joe Scott of Conservation Northwest. “Canadians and Americans understand not only the responsibility, but the opportunity and privilege of passing them on alive and vibrant to our grandchildren.”

“Today’s announcement gives us hope these magnificent creatures and the old-growth forests they depend on will be around a hundred years from now. It also provides extra security for the extremely threatened south Selkirk herd in Idaho and Washington.”

Over the course of the three-year campaign led by the coalition, which included targeted advertising, public service announcements and community outreach, messages were sent to the BC government by celebrities, customers of BC forest products, business leaders and over 16,000 citizens. Nearly 600 US business leaders played an especially significant role just three months ago, writing directly to British Columbia Premier, Gordon Campbell, urging greater protection for caribou.

With an agreement in place, attention now shifts to the painstaking work of legislating the government's plan, with the coalition promising to keep residents and businesses in both countries abreast as the protections move through government processes towards legislation, expected in spring 2008.  

Today's mountain caribou recovery implementation plan means:

  • 5,500,000 million acres is protected from logging and road building, including new and upgraded protections over 1,000,000 acres.
  • 95% of the high suitability caribou habitat identified by the BC government's caribou science team will be protected;
  • A commitment to develop new management approaches in remaining habitat that will restore forests to conditions that support a healthier predator-prey balance;
  • Development of stewardship agreements for commercial and non-commercial snowmobiling, heli-skiing and cat-skiing, and legal access closures of areas that science team members deem important for caribou.

B-roll and high-resolution rights-released photos available at www.forestethics.ca

For more information about mountain caribou and the Inland Temperate Rainforest: www.mountaincaribou.ca.

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