Ottawa needs to act now on Environment Commissioner’s recommendations, conservation groups say

November 5, 2013 (Ottawa) — Environment Canada needs significant new funding in order to implement the important recommendations released yesterday by the federal Environment Commissioner, say several environmental conservation groups including Nature Canada.

“Yesterday’s report from the Environment Commissioner confirms the fears of many Canadians that Environment Canada’s protected areas are in a poor state and in desperate need of serious investment.” said Ian Davidson, Executive Director of Nature Canada. “We would add to the Environment Commissioner’s report that the current poor state of Canada’s protected areas is due to chronic underfunding rather than management failures on the part of Environment Canada. It’s entirely preventable.”

The Commissioner’s audit yesterday found that more than 70 per cent of National Wildlife Areas in Canada are inadequately protected according to Environment Canada’s own analysis. Additionally, the audit makes clear that Environment Canada has not adequately undertaken conservation planning and results measurement for landbirds, shorebirds and waterbirds even as many shorebird and landbird species continue to suffer steep declines in population.

John Neville, President of BC Nature, stressed that the problem is fixable. “Underfunding is a big source of the problem. The federal audit’s discussion of the better-funded North American Waterfowl Management Plan also shows that good public policy can make a big difference with these sorts of problems.”

“Canada spends just 25¢ per hectare managing its National Wildlife Areas, which is a small fraction of the more than $10 per hectare that the United States spends managing its National Wildlife Refuges” said Davidson. Davidson concluded by noting that Nature Canada is calling on the Government of Canada to invest $175 million over five years and $35 million annually thereafter to better manage Environment Canada’s protected areas and establish 21 new National Wildlife Areas.”

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About Nature Canada:

Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation non-profit organization in Canada. It is also the largest grassroots nature conservation organization in the country with a network of hundreds of local affiliates and provincial affiliate organizations in every province, including BC Nature.
In 2013, Nature Canada was named as one of Canada’s top environmental charities by Charity Intelligence.

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Paul Jorgenson, Senior Communications Manager, 613-562-3447 ext. 248, pjorgenson@naturecanada.ca

Monica Tanaka, Communications Coordinator, 613-562-3447 ext 241, mtanaka@naturecanada.ca