Closing forest roads to restore caribou habitat: assessing the effects on boreal caribou, alternate prey and predators

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Authors:
Mathieu Leblond, Rebecca Lacerte, Martin-Hugues St-Laurent

Publication Date:
2021

Abstract/Summary:
Anthropogenic activities and their impacts on boreal caribou have received considerable attention from wildlife ecologists for more than two decades. A general consensus emerging from this body of knowledge is that concrete actions such as active habitat restoration will be required if we hope to save dwindling caribou populations living in heavily disturbed areas. In some regions of eastern Canada, intensive forestry activities have led to the creation of dense forest road networks, which predators such as wolves often use to efficiently patrol caribou ranges. In collaboration with the Essipit First Nation, we evaluated the efficacy of 4 forest road treatments to restore caribou habitat in Akumunan, east of the Saguenay region, Qu├ębec, Canada. Preliminary results suggest that 3 years after treatment, closed roads planted with spruce trees had a higher density of herbaceous plants compared to roads that were only closed to traffic. Interestingly, environmental conditions surrounding treated sites seemed to have a strong effect on regeneration, potentially more than treatments per se. A network of 230 game cameras installed across our experimental design also allowed us to evaluate use of closed forest roads by boreal caribou, grey wolves, black bears, and moose; these results will be discussed during the presentation. Results from this study will help to identify efficient strategies to forest road restoration in regions where forestry activities are believed to be the main driver of boreal caribou declines.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program

Source:
SER2021