Feds ap­plaud WWF re­port

Min­istry says they’re al­ready work­ing on is­sues raised

Metro Canada (Edmonton) - - Canada -

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.”

ShuTTerSToCk

The bobolink is a grass­land bird that is listed as threat­ened in Canada, due to habi­tat de­struc­tion.

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