Woodland caribou are well adapted to life in the boreal forest. They are a non-migratory subspecies that require large expanses of habitat with low densities of predators, like wolves, and they’re usually found in small numbers.
COSIA’s caribou projects
Caribou are also listed as threatened under Canada’s Species at Risk Act, due to declining population, likely caused primarily by increased predation. Natural factors, like forest fires, within the boreal forest have altered and contributed to a fragmented landscape. This often leads to increased populations of deer, moose, elk and their predators. Given the low numbers of woodland caribou in the boreal forest, any increased predation pressure can have devastating effects.
While caribou conservation is a shared government, public and private sector responsibility, it is led by government. As such, the Government of Alberta released its Draft Provincial Woodland Caribou Range Plan in 2017. The plan aims to recover and sustain woodland caribou populations using a broad range of tools.
As an operator in the boreal forest, Suncor has a role to play in contributing towards caribou conservation, and we’ve developed a strategy aimed at mitigating our impact on woodland caribou.
Suncor regularly considers caribou-focused objectives at both the local and landscape levels. For example, Suncor incorporates under-pipe crossings along above-ground pipelines at in situ projects, and reclaims disturbed areas to accelerate recovery of the caribou’s habitat.
In collaboration with COSIA, Suncor also completed a multi-year caribou habitat restoration program to repair fragmented habitat within the Algar region of northeast Alberta.