Eight-year-old Emily was happy to roll-up her sleeves and make some serious dough – cookie dough that is – to help protect her favourite animal, the woodland caribou.
From her home in Port Elgin, Ont., the Grade Three student baked more than 350 caribou-shaped cookies to sell at a local bake sale to raise funds as part of Earth Rangers’ Bring Back the Wild campaign. It was hard work, but her baking contributed $500 to supporting important caribou habitat research in northern Alberta.
Earth Rangers is a kids’ conservation organization that educates children like Emily and their families about biodiversity and empowers them to protect animals and our environment.
TransCanada has partnered with Earth Rangers for the past six years and currently supports the Bring Back the Wild Woodland Caribou Campaign.
A species at risk
The woodland caribou is listed as a threatened species under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. Over the course of the past 50 years, caribou populations have significantly declined. The fragmentation of the boreal forests causes the caribou’s remote habitat to become more accessible to their predators. Only 2,500 to 4,200 caribou now remain in Canada’s northern boreal forests.
“Since the launch of the Woodland Caribou Project in August 2016, more than 4,000 elementary school-aged kids like Emily have raised a total of $17,819 to support important caribou research,” said Tovah Barocas, Earth Rangers’ communications director.
Through Bring Back the Wild, kids learn about the natural history of species like the woodland caribou and its important role in Canada’s ecosystem. Creative fundraising efforts then empower the children to make a tangible difference.
“The Bring Back the Wild program focuses on teaching kids about local wildlife and the importance of environmental conservation with the goal in mind that they will continue to be environmental stewards into adulthood,” Tovah said.
Other caribou conservation initiatives
In addition to working with Earth Rangers to help protect woodland caribou, TransCanada continues to work with other organizations in Alberta to support caribou habitat restoration in the Dillon Wildlands.
In the Dillon River Wildland Park, TransCanada is collaborating with Alberta Pacific Forest Industries Inc. and Alberta Environment and Parks to conduct habitat restoration aligned with provincial priorities and federal caribou recovery strategies.
Since 2014, TransCanada has co-ordinated with other operators in the area to restore 56 hectares in the provincial park.
“We planted thousands of trees in 2015 and now we are monitoring the area to ensure our restoration efforts are effective,” said Jennifer Barker, a senior environmental advisor at TransCanada.
“The intent is to restore vegetation on previously disturbed seismic lines through planting, and reduce human traffic in the area,” Barker said. “Vegetation specialists have monitored the restoration sites to make sure the planted trees are surviving and growing. We also use aerial monitoring technology such as 360-degree imagery, which allows us to take photos of the area from a helicopter, and LiDAR, which is data collected by a fixed wing airplane.
“We have further set up remote cameras to measure the level of access by humans and other wildlife,” Barker added.
In 2017, TransCanada plans to restore another 60 hectares in the park.
“We’re committed to restoring caribou habitat in this area and ensuring our efforts are a success,” Barker said. “We want to do the right thing when it comes to protecting the environment.”