WWF Praises De Beers Commitment to Stay Out of Caribou Calving Areas in the NWT and Nunavut | WWF-Canada

WWF Praises De Beers Commitment to Stay Out of Caribou Calving Areas in the NWT and Nunavut

Posted on 27 October 2008
Caribou cows and calf.
© Ken MADSEN / WWF-Canada
The calving area promise is part of a larger caribou commitment by De Beers contained in a letter from De Beers Canada President and CEO Jim Gowans, to WWF-Canada’s President Emeritus, Monte Hummel (attached). Mr. Hummel is also co-author of the book, along with Dr. Justina Ray, Executive Director of Wildlife Conservation Society-Canada.

"This kind of leadership deserves recognition and support from anyone concerned about the future of caribou,” said Mr. Hummel. "That’s because De Beers has made their commitment whether or not other companies follow suit, over and above what is required of them by regulation, and it responds to concerns that have been repeatedly and publicly expressed by Aboriginal representatives, scientists, and conservation groups."

Mr. Hummel is referring, for example, to statements from the Canadian Wildlife Service (2002), the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board (2004), the NWT Barren-ground Caribou Summit (2007), and a resolution by Dene Chiefs (2007)—all attached.

"I am particularly glad to see a company with the international influence of De Beers making this commitment," said Stephen Kakfwi, former Premier of the NWT, who also provided a Foreword for Caribou and the North. I'm sure that anyone who depends on caribou and wants to see the herds recover, will welcome such an action." Mr. Kakfwi chaired sessions of the December 2007 Dene Leadership meeting, when a resolution was passed identifying the calving grounds of barren-ground caribou as "...ecologically sensitive areas that must be protected..."

"Our Board has recommended permanent, legislated protection of caribou calving areas since 2004,” said Jerome Denechezhe from Lac Brochet in northern Manitoba, Chair of the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board. The Board represents five governments (NWT, Nunavut, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Canada), as well as the twenty communities that depend on these two herds which calve in Nunavut.“ So far, no one has agreed to provide such protection, therefore it is great to see a company like De Beers step forward. We hope that other companies, and governments, will follow their good example."

In the book Caribou and the North, it was noted that, of the over twenty migratory tundra caribou calving areas in North America (Canada and Alaska), only one has been provided with permanent (year round) protection—the calving grounds for the Bluenose West herd in Tuktuk Nogait National Park, NWT (see attached map). The book also observed that at the time of writing, "...there is still no mining or oil and gas company that has signed up for the ‘conservation first’ principle, for example by voluntarily staying out of areas proposed for protection, including migratory tundra caribou calving areas."

I'm really pleased to announce that on the very day we are launching our book in the North, this is no longer true!" said Monte Hummel.

WWF was established in 1961 and operates in more than 100 countries, with over five million supporters worldwide. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature by conserving the world’s biological diversity; ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable; and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. WWF-Canada's main office is in Toronto, with regional conservation offices located in Yellowknife, Vancouver, Prince Rupert, St. Albert, Ottawa, Halifax and Havana, Cuba. For more information, visit wwf.ca.

For further information:

Monte Hummel
Office: via Josh Laughren 416-484-7708
Cell: 647-400-9578
In Yellowknife (Oct 26-28): via Ray Griffith 867-445-6448

De Beers Canada
Cathy Bolstad (Yellowknife): 867-766-7325
Derek Teevan (Toronto):613-791-2011