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Largest BC Parks expansion in over a decade will protect habitat for Southern Mountain Caribou

Caribou in the Klinse-za maternal pen near Chetwynd, B.C., in June 2015. Tristan Brand photo.
Caribou in the Klinse-za maternal pen near Chetwynd, B.C., in June 2015. Tristan Brand photo.

A significant park expansion added in critical Peace Region caribou habitat is welcomed by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – British Columbia. The 170,000 hectare Klinse-za Park expansion will result in the largest provincial park established in B.C. in a decade.

The expansion of the Klinse-za/Twin Sisters Provincial Park is for about five times the Park’s current size, and over twice the size of Manning Park. The expansion stems from a 2020 Partnership Agreement between the federal and provincial governments and West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations which established conservation commitments for endangered Southern Mountain Caribou.

“Protecting the habitat and foods that caribou depend on is key to long-term both caribou and community health, this park expansion is much awaited and welcomed for this iconic species,” says Tori Ball, Conservation Director – Lands & Freshwater Program at CPAWS-BC. “West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations are leaders in caribou conservation efforts and the formal protection of this important caribou habitat is a testament to their perseverance and leadership to secure a future for these important species.”

The area is home to the central group of Southern Mountain Caribou, consisting of five remaining herds. Recovery efforts, led by the West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations, have seen the Klinse-za herd rebound from just 16 animals in 2013 to over 100.

Caribou are in trouble, with many herds in BC at risk of disappearing due to an onslaught of resource development. Securing long-term protection of their habitat is key to their survival. Protecting caribou habitat will also benefit other wildlife species, and help ensure healthy ecosystems for all residents of BC.

Caribou require large intact and connected areas to thrive and function as an indicator species, letting us know that the health of the forests and ecosystems they inhabit. Protecting caribou habitat in turn benefits many other species as well as the ecosystems that we all depend on.

“This park expansion will have positive impacts for the health of the surrounding ecosystems and iconic caribou herds. Working towards the global goal of protecting 30% of lands and waters by 2030 needs to benefit and include everybody, and it is important that we protect another over 14% of BC by moving forward together,” added Ball.

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