In Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, to the chagrin of those who know the species, the idea of waiting even longer to take caribou conservation measures is emerging.
Published yesterday at 0:00
The region’s sawmill owners are reportedly asking the Legault government to freeze “current timber supplies” for five years, “in the hope of preventing implementation of the strategy.” [de rétablissement du] Caribou,” reported the newspaper Le Quotidien de Saguenay in its Monday edition.
That claim would be justified, according to Le Quotidien, by a desire to further document the reasons for the caribou’s decline, despite the conclusion of the Independent Commission on Forest and Mountain Caribou, which ruled last August that there is sufficient and well-established knowledge on the subject Solutions.
The Commission’s finding that all the information needed to protect the caribou is known is “not true” in the eyes of forest engineer Caroline Lavoie of Lac-Saint-Jean Scierie, who is “certain” that the portrait is incomplete, she told La Presse.
“We are not against the strategy [de rétablissement du] Karibus”, she specifies and explains that she wants “leeway” despite all the constraints of forest management.
That speech startled Quebec caribou experts, “one of the best-studied species in Canada,” stresses Martin-Hugues St-Laurent, professor of animal ecology at the University of Quebec at Rimouski (UQAR).
“It’s an industry tactic to try to slow down the preservation process as much as possible,” adds Daniel Fortin, a professor of biology at Laval University.
Questioning knowledge about caribou is the same strategy oil and tobacco companies use to deny the harmful effects of their products, Quebec caribou experts complain.
Waiting five years could be deadly for several herds of caribou, says Fanie Pelletier, a professor in the University of Sherbrooke’s Department of Biology.
“In the Gaspésie Park, we went from around 180 animals in 2007 to 85 in 2011,” she explains. Unfortunately, all these delays can therefore affect the chances of success of future conservation strategies. »
Meeting with Minister Laforest
However, the call for a “moratorium” is not shared by all players in the industry, testimonies collected by La Presse show.
A dozen forest companies met Monday morning with Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean Minister for Municipal Affairs Andrée Laforest and regional MPs – all CAQ members – to share their grievances.
Participating multinational Resolute Forest Products is demanding that its allotted timber amounts be maintained for the next five years, but claims it has not asked for a caribou recovery strategy shift, Louis Bouchard told La Presse. , the company’s senior director of government affairs.
We believe there is a way to maintain harvest levels equivalent to what we have today while still meeting the goals of protecting biodiversity.
Louis Bouchard, senior director of government affairs at multinational Resolute Forest Products
Mr. Bouchard called for a revision of the forest regime.
The meeting was a “discussion on the future of the forest industry in the region,” Jean-François Samray, president and director-general of the Quebec Forest Industry Council, explained to La Presse, who also denies having “repeated the call for a moratorium.” [qui avait été] proposed by certain industrialists during the Caribou Commission”.
“It was a much broader discussion” about the limitations and “lack of predictability” affecting the industry, Samray said.
The Regional Councils (MRC), whose prefects also attended the meeting, are also criticizing Quebec for not having a plan for the forest industry, Yanick Baillargeon told La Presse of Domaine-du-Roy’s MRC.
He also claims not to have requested a moratorium on the implementation of caribou conservation measures.
The timber industry has “many problems” and uses caribou as a “scapegoat,” said Marco Festa-Bianchet, director of the Department of Biology at the University of Sherbrooke.
The increase in wildfires associated with climate change will reduce the amount of wood available, a factor neglected in Quebec forest planning, explains Martin-Hugues St-Laurent.
He also mentions the decline in global demand for newsprint, which will lead to factory closures, or the need to conserve old-growth forests “for all other non-caribou ecological functions.”
“Caribou, not caribou, our way of exploiting the forest can’t go on like this,” he says. As long as we’re dangling from factory workers, there’s a doubt [sur les véritables causes], we’re going to slow down the moment we’re going to transition this economy to get these people to work. »
No official request
Minister Andrée Laforest’s office did not respond to questions from La Presse about Monday’s meeting with the forest industry, but that of Environment, Combating Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks Minister Benoit Charette said he had not received a request for one Moratorium on caribou recovery strategy and recalls that Quebec has reached an agreement with Ottawa to restore certain deer habitats.
5252 Quebec woodland caribou population estimate
SOURCE: INDEPENDENT COMMISSION ON WOODLAND AND MOUNTAIN CARIBOU