Nature Canada

Federal Efforts to Recover Species at Risk are Lacking

Federal efforts to recover species at risk are falling short while pressures on wildlife and habitats continue to worsen, according to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development in his Spring 2023 reports.

The number of listed species at risk has only increased over the years, and is expected to continue rising. Key documents such as recovery strategies and action plans needed to help species at risk recover are either not in place or delayed according to the Commissioner, and this has implications for the government’s ability to assess and track progress towards its 2030 biodiversity goals.

Additionally, the Commissioner’s reports highlight that Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is not taking effective action to protect species under urgent threat. ECCC does not have complete policies and guidelines in place to advise the Minister on the use of emergency orders and safety net provisions. Instead, ECCC has taken a reactive approach responding mainly to external pressure (from groups such as Nature Canada) with the result that only three emergency orders have been issued and no safety nets ordered in over 20 years to protect highly threatened species and their habitat.

The Commissioner did note that Environment and Climate Change Canada has taken important first steps by establishing conservation agreements for boreal and southern mountain caribou

Key recommendations put forward by the Commissioner are that the government:

  • Adopt multi-species recovery and ecosystem-based approaches to simultaneously protect numerous species at risk in threatened ecosystems such as prairie grasslands or Carolinian forests;
  • Determine timeframes and resources needed to reduce the backlog of recovery strategies and action plans needed to recover species at risk; and
  • Adopt a proactive approach and complete policies and guidelines in support of timely advice on the use of the safety net and emergency order provisions and other reports.

Overall, not a great performance by a federal government that is committed to halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030 and earned global kudos in leading nations towards the signature of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework in December.

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