Chéticamp, Nova Scotia
October 13, 2016
 

The health of the boreal forest in Cape Breton Highlands National Park is in decline. Rare species such as the lynx and American marten are struggling with the loss of habitat, while forest birds are being replaced by grassland species. Parks Canada is committed to restoring forest health in Cape Breton Highlands National Park through the Bring Back the Boreal project. In 2014, we began a four-year project that applies different experimental methods aimed at reversing the trend of forest loss and bringing back the boreal forest.

After more than 15 years of scientific study, Parks Canada’s data shows that the current moose population in Cape Breton Highlands National Park (approximately 1,800 moose) is negatively impacting the forest ecosystem by stunting the growth of young trees therefore changing the forest to grassland. In fact, the density of moose in the national park is estimated to be four times the amount a healthy balanced forest can typically support. We know that our boreal forest cannot sustain this population.

The Bring Back the Boreal conservation and restoration project focuses on three areas in the national park: Skyline Trail, North Mountain and Warren Lake. In each of these areas, we are piloting different restoration techniques to develop the most effective approaches for restoring the boreal forest. These approaches include: tree planting, building fences to keep moose from browsing young trees, and reducing the moose population in a specific 20km2 area of North Mountain. The North Mountain site represents 2% of the park.

One of the techniques being applied is the removal of moose from an area on North Mountain to reduce moose over browsing and allow natural regeneration of the forest to occur.

It’s important to note that reducing the population of a species is not a new approach for Parks Canada, but is reserved for situations of absolute necessity.

This year, as part of its ongoing Bring Back the Boreal project, Cape Breton Highlands National Park and its partners Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources will reduce the moose population this autumn in the same 20km2 area of North Mountain where a population reduction took place last year. Moose population reduction activities are tentatively planned to start as early as the first week of November and could last until December 18.

Parks Canada will continue to work with local communities and interest groups to share information and explore ways to involve local communities in the Bring Back the Boreal project.

Derek Quann
Project Coordinator - Resource Conservation,
Cape Breton Field Unit, Parks Canada

Information

Darlene Doucet
Public Relations and Communications Officer
Cape Breton Field Unit, Parks Canada
902-224-7041
darlene.doucet@pc.gc.ca