The following news release was issued by the Goverment of Canada and accessed by CPAWS here at 1:00pm ET on May 8, 2018.
The Government of Canada and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society reach an important agreement on species at risk reporting
Today, an important step was taken to protect species at risk in Canada. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society agreed that, moving forward, the Government of Canada will track and report unprotected critical habitat for species at risk on non-federal lands, 180 days after critical habitat has been identified. In addition, the federal government has committed to addressing Species at Risk Act reporting requirements.
The agreement settles a judicial review that the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society filed in the Federal Court—in relation to section 63 of the Species at Risk Act—on April 20, 2017. Since then, the Government of Canada and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society have worked together to determine a path forward that is agreeable to both parties. This agreement provides increased clarity on the implementation of the protection of critical habitat reporting mechanism of the Species at Risk Act. Its implementation will increase transparency regarding the actions of the Government of Canada and provinces and territories.
On April 30, 2018, Environment and Climate Change Canada issued its first report, under section 63 of the Species at Risk Act, on the protection of critical habitat for boreal caribou and the steps underway to protect it. As per section 63 requirements, Environment and Climate Change Canada will update this report every 180 days.
By June 2019, Environment and Climate Change Canada will report on the protection of critical habitat and the steps underway to protect it, for approximately 150 terrestrial species, where critical habitat has been identified in a recovery strategy or action plan. Reporting will continue every 180 days until the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change is satisfied that sufficient measures are in place to protect the critical habitat.
To support Canada’s biodiversity, Budget 2018 committed $1.3 billion in new funding for the protection of species at risk and protected areas. Going forward, the Government of Canada will be working with provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples, and stakeholders on multi-species approaches in priority areas and on specific priority species. As part of this work, regular reporting will take place on the steps being taken to protect critical habitat, along with other stewardship measures to protect and recover species at risk and their habitat.
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society welcomes these developments and looks forward to working with the Government of Canada to protect and recover species at risk. Preserving biodiversity and natural areas is important to Canadians, and it contributes to the health and well-being of our environment, our economy, and our communities.
“Canada’s iconic wildlife and wilderness are fundamental to the Canadian identity and essential to a healthy and resilient environment. Our government is making historic investments to protect habitat and species at risk in Canada and support their recovery. We are committed to fulfilling our responsibilities under the Species at Risk Act, and we will work closely with partners to track efforts to protect habitat and promote the recovery of species at risk—preserving a healthy environment and a strong economy now and for future generations.”
– Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“This agreement moves us one step closer to addressing the biggest current threat to species in Canada, the destruction of critical habitat.”
– Éric Hébert-Daly, National Executive Director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
“This mechanism is an important part of the full implementation of the Species at Risk Act. It will increase discussions and facilitate collaboration between the federal government and provincial and territorial governments regarding critical-habitat protection, while respecting the complementary spirit of the Species at Risk Act.”
– Alain Branchaud, Executive Director of the Quebec chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
Once a species is listed under the Species at Risk Act as threatened, endangered, or extirpated (no longer exists in Canada), the Act requires that critical habitat for the species be identified in a recovery strategy or action plan for the species, to be published on the Species at Risk Public Registry.
If, in the opinion of the Minister, any portion of a species’ critical habitat on non-federal land remains unprotected 180 days after it is identified in a final recovery strategy or action plan posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry, the Minister must, in accordance with section 63 of the Species at Risk Act, include in that Registry a report on the steps taken to protect the critical habitat. Section 63 requires that the Minister continue to report with respect to every subsequent 180 day period until the portion is protected or is no longer identified as critical habitat.
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)