A National Place-based Approach to Species at Risk Conservation

Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel

The Canadian Wildlife Service announced a proposed National Approach to Species at Risk Conservation (“National Approach”) at the May 30-31, 2018 meetings of the Species at Risk Advisory Committee (SARAC). SARAC is an advisory committee to Environment and Climate Change Canada that includes representatives from industry and civil society groups including Nature Canada.

The National Approach will be considered by federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) Environment Ministers at their June 28, 2018 meeting. FPT Ministers had already decided in February 2017 to make a strategic shift to multi-species and ecosystem based approaches and more targeted and collaborative efforts on shared priority places, species and threats.

Criteria and considerations for identifying priority places set out in the National Approach: a defined geographic area of high biodiversity value; recognizable ecological theme and social relevance; and identification as a distinct place by the people who live there. The six priority places currently identified in the National Approach include: Southwest British Columbia; Dry Interior (BC); South of the Divide (SK); Long Point/Walsingham Forest (ON); St. Lawrence Lowlands (QC/ON); and Southwest Nova Scotia.  Other possible priority places include: Southern Alberta; Southwest Manitoba; and the Ontario shores of Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake St Clair, and Lake Huron.

Criteria and considerations for identifying priority species in the National Approach include: deliver conservation for ecologically important, widely distributed species and their ecosystems in often complex threat scenarios; a manageable number of priority species across Canada; and significant co-benefits to multiple species at risk, other wildlife and related biodiversity values.

Finally the National Approach recognizes that high-impact sector activities or threats at national or regional scale must be addressed where there is an opportunity to have a positive impact on species at risk.

Nature Canada supports the multi-species and ecosystem-based approaches identified in the National Approach.  Experience with the federal Species at Risk Act has clearly demonstrated that single-species approaches alone (with their at-risk listings, recovery strategies, designation of critical habitat, and action plans) are not adequate and may not be the  most efficient use of public resources.


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