Feds applaud WWF report
Ministry says they’re already working on issues raised
Canada’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and a nature conservation group are applauding WWF Canada’s report that highlights the need for more action to save the country’s wildlife, but say there are signs of progress as well.
Half of all monitored species, even animals protected by federal legislation, are declining at an alarming rate, according to the report released Thursday, which includes data on more than 900 species.
The Ministry says it has already started working on several recommendations issued by the report.
For instance, staff have cut the backlog of species waiting to be listed under the Species At Risk Act (SARA) by half, said Jonathan Wilkinson, Parliamentary Secretary to Environment Minister Catherin McKenna.
“We announced a year ago we would work on eliminating the back log in three years. We are halfway through the process,” he told Metro.
“We believe we will be completed by the end of 2018 – so yes, we are investing time and resources.”
He acknowledged that in the past, it took a long time for atrisk species to receive federal protection under SARA.
This was one of several criticisms included in WWF Canada’s report.
The report also calls on the federal government to expand its network of protected areas, where harvesting, industrial development, and other activities harmful to wildlife are prohibited.
The Ministry is tackling that issue with its Pathway strategy, which aims to increase the amount of protected areas from 10 per cent to 17 per cent by 2020, said to Wilkinson.
There are also financial incentives such as the Ecological Gifts program for private landowners to donate their land for permanent conservation.
The Natural Conservancy of Canada owns more than 2. 8 million acres across the country – all of it was either donated or sold to them by private landowners.
That number is expected to continue growing as the charity is seeing increased interest from the public, said spokesperson Andrew Holland.
“More families are looking at their options for selling or options for donating land. Lands are being handed down through generations and in some cases, people have very busy lives and they don’t know what to do with the lands or how to use it or how to protect it themselves,” he said.
“These are lands that the government won’t be able to acquire. There’s a real opportunity for private land trusts to help fill that void.”
The bobolink is a grassland bird that is listed as threatened in Canada, due to habitat destruction.