Triad zoning in northern Ontario and woodland caribou conservation: a critical review
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Woodland caribou in Ontario are threatened, posing a conflict between habitat and timber supply for forest areas. The current management practices with Dynamic Caribou Habitat Schedules (DCHS) address long-term habitat supply, relying on caribou to reinhabit harvested areas while lacking evidence of this and failing to address current demand for critical habitat protection. Meanwhile, Ontario’s forest industry has been experiencing various other challenges including decreasing wood supply, increasing road distances and costs, decreasing wood quality, greater public pressure to provide a wide array of ecosystem services, and more. Ontario’s shift to a sustainable forest management paradigm has continued to consider wood supply above environmental and social values. Cumulatively, these have caused pressure to apply an alternative management solution to current extensive practices that can better meet multiple objectives. Triad forest management divides the forest into three zones with designated uses and objectives with a wood production, ecosystem management, and conservation zone. This has the potential when properly planned to improve wood supply and quality, reduce road distances and costs, maintain ecosystem services, provide critical caribou habitat, and more. Though there are various challenges with employing a zoning method, a balanced approach between current management by using a DCHS with triad zoning could alleviate these while improving environmental, economic, and social sustainability.
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