The Woodland caribou is an icon of the great Canadian wilderness. We celebrate this majestic species by placing its image on our 25-cent piece. But the flip side of our Canadian quarter is a tale of human-caused habitat loss that’s lead to the destruction of the very species we commemorate on this coin.
Woodland caribou are now gone from 3 provinces. Their boreal forest habitats are being lost at an alarming rate across our nation. In Manitoba, a provincial government report states that we have lost 50% of our woodland caribou since the 1950’s. This is largely due to industrial activities such as logging, mining, and hydro projects that have failed to consider the needs of caribou and other wildlife.
The good news is we still have a tremendous opportunity in Manitoba to save woodland caribou. By securing huge swaths of boreal habitats from industrial developments, we protect the ecological services we all require. The boreal forest is the world’s largest source of fresh water, and the northern lungs of the planet. It also stores tons of carbon, which helps slow down climate change.
The Manitoba government has made commitments to protect 2 million hectares (roughly 50 times the size of Winnipeg) of intact boreal forest on the east side of Lake Winnipeg. Sadly, Manitobans have held their breath so long waiting for this promise to be fulfilled that we are starting to turn blue. Please Premier Doer, protect our east side forests immediately so we can all breathe deeply again knowing your government is truly committed to a healthy future for woodland caribou, boreal wildlife, and humans.