Nature and wildlife: appearance before the Standing Committee
Q. What is the Government doing to protect caribou?
The Government of Canada has been working with provinces, territories, stakeholders and Indigenous peoples on the protection and recovery of Canada’s species at risk, including caribou, in a timely manner, using robust recovery plans based on the best available science and traditional knowledge.
- Provinces and territories have primary responsibility to manage lands and wildlife within caribou ranges.
- The Government of Canada recognizes leadership of First Nations in recovering caribou and the recent measures taken by the provinces of B.C. and Alberta.
Southern Mountain Caribou
Q. What progress has the government made to protect Southern Mountain Caribou?
- The Government of Canada has finalized two new agreements for southern mountain caribou conservation in B.C.: a Section 11 Agreement between Canada and B.C., and a Partnership Agreement between Canada, B.C., and the Saulteau and West Moberly First Nations.
- The agreements aim to stabilize and recover southern mountain caribou populations in B.C. while minimizing negative impacts to local communities and industries.
- In the Section 11 Agreement, the Government of Canada and B.C. are committing to implement a wide range of recovery measures for the Southern, Central, and Northern Groups of southern mountain caribou, including completing all herd plans by 2021, increasing caribou habitat, and establishing a science and knowledge committee for the species.
- The Partnership Agreement focuses on the Central group, and recognizes the leadership of Saulteau First Nations and West Moberly First Nations in their successful efforts to support southern mountain caribou recovery.
- Southern mountain caribou are culturally important to many Indigenous peoples in B.C., and stabilizing and recovering the caribou population will be critical to restoring and maintaining their rights to cultural uses.
Q. What progress has the government made to protect Boreal Caribou?
- Boreal caribou is a priority species under the Pan-Canadian Approach to Transforming Species at Risk Conservation in Canada.
- In February 2018, the Government of Canada published a Boreal Caribou Action Plan, which provides a comprehensive framework for steps that the Government of Canada is taking -- and plans to take -- to protect and recover the species. This includes investing in science, advancing caribou protection and recovery by negotiating conservation agreements with provinces and territories to support and accelerate their efforts to recover the species in their jurisdiction and reporting progress to the public.
- Since 2018, the Government of Canada has made significant investments and efforts to advance conservation measures for boreal caribou across Canada, enabled by the historic investment in nature from Budget 2018.
- This includes:
- Negotiating six final conservation agreements with provinces, territories, and Indigenous Peoples,
- Publishing a draft conservation agreement with the Government of Alberta; and
- Protecting critical habitat on federal lands across Canada.
- The Government of Canada has also supported the establishment of the National Boreal Caribou Knowledge Consortium. The Knowledge Consortium will improve information-sharing and addressing knowledge gaps in order to inform decision making for boreal caribou conservation.
- In June 2019, the Government of Canada published an Order to protect critical habitat for boreal caribou on federally-administered lands.
- If asked about the court case regarding boreal caribou in Alberta:
- The Application has been adjourned pending further discussions and negotiations between the Parties.
Q. What impact would a protection order have on industry in Alberta (oil, mining, forestry)?
- The government is committed to the conservation of caribou while supporting the broader commitments of reconciliation and economic growth.
- When deciding whether to issue protection orders under the Species at Risk Act and, if so, the content of any such orders, the Government of Canada could take many factors into consideration, including for instance the cultural importance of the caribou for Indigenous Peoples, their rights and interests, and potential impacts on industry and ways of addressing or minimizing these impacts.
Q. Is the Government of Canada on the hook for compensating industries that would be affected by a protection order?
- Under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) the Minister of ECCC may consider providing fair and reasonable compensation for losses suffered as a result of any extraordinary impact of a protection order. The specific facts relating to any application for compensation would need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis before a decision to provide any compensation is made.
Q. What jurisdiction does the Government of Canada have over the province to implement a protection order on provincial lands?
- The Government of Canada recognizes that provinces and territories have primary responsibility for the management of lands under their jurisdiction.
- Under the Species at Risk Act (SARA), the Minister of ECCC must recommend to the Governor in Council the issuance of a protection order if he or she is of the opinion, after consultation with the appropriate provincial or territorial minister, that there are no provisions either in SARA or provincial or territorial law that effectively protect the critical habitat. The Governor in Council may then decide, in consideration of the Minister’s recommendation, whether the issuance of a protection is warranted.
- The Government of Canada understands that recovery of boreal caribou will take time and long-term, sustained collaborative action.
- The Government of Canada will continue to work with provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples, partners and stakeholders, to ensure the protection of caribou and their habitat, and to implement actions to conserve caribou populations listed under SARA. This includes maintaining collaborative working relations with provinces and territories.
Nature Conservation Initiatives
- In Budget 2018, the Government of Canada made a historic investment of $1.3 billion in nature conservation, known as the Nature Legacy. This is the single largest investment in conserving nature in Canadian history.
- The Government of Canada will bring forward a plan to conserve 25% of Canada’s land and 25% of Canada’s oceans by 2025, and working toward 30% of each by 2030.
- The Government invested $100 million over four years in the Natural Heritage Conservation Program. The funding will allow a consortium led by Nature Conservancy of Canada to establish a program to protect private lands in southern Canada.
- The Government of Canada is making Indigenous leadership an important part of conservation efforts. Up to 27 Indigenous protected and conserved areas are expected to be established under the Canada Nature Fund’s Target 1 Challenge. Further, Budget 2017 announced support for Indigenous guardians' programs, which support Indigenous conservation through on-the- ground, Nation-based stewardship initiatives.
Q. What is the Nature Legacy?
- The Nature Legacy initiative is a commitment made in Budget 2018 which includes historic investments over five years to meet Canada’s international commitments to biodiversity, sustainable development and climate change, [*Redacted*]
- A series of 68 conservation initiatives launching in every province and territory are a part of Canada’s Nature Legacy initiative. These projects are supported by the $175 million federal Canada Nature Fund’s Target 1 Challenge to expand a connected network of protected and conserved areas across Canada.
Q. What is the Canada Nature Fund?
- The Nature Fund is a key part of the Nature Legacy initiative. It is a $500 million investment to support the efforts of non-federal partners whose commitment is critical to achieving success in nature conservation.
- It will support a new approach to promoting biodiversity through targeted federal investments that enhance collaboration and partnership on protected areas and species at risk. The Nature Fund includes initiatives like Quick Start, the Natural Heritage Conservation Program, the Target 1 Challenge and Community Nominated Priority Places for Species at Risk.
- Canada Nature Fund contributions are matched by philanthropic foundations, corporations, not-for-profits, provinces, territories and other partners, raising a total of $1 billion for conservation action.
Q. What is the Quick Start initiative?
- Quick Start is part of the Canada Nature Fund and Canada’s Nature Legacy, the single largest investment in nature conservation by a Government in Canadian history.
- Quick Start funding was available for projects in 2018/19 to build on the momentum of the Pathway to Target 1. Funds were directed to provinces, territories, Indigenous governments, and non-profit organizations to advance nearly-ready Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCA) and other protected and conserved areas and/or supporting capacity building activities to contribute to Canada’s Target 1 commitments.
Q. What is the Target 1 Challenge Component of the Canada Nature Fund?
- As part of the Canada Nature Fund, the Target 1 Challenge supports the establishment of new protected and conserved areas across Canada and thus the conservation of Canada’s ecosystems, landscapes and biodiversity, including species at risk.
- Through the Target 1 Challenge, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) will work with provinces and territories, Indigenous people and the private and non-profit sectors to achieve significant progress on terrestrial elements of Target 1 of Canada’s 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets.
- The Challenge component will also support the enhancement of the ecological integrity and connectivity of Canada’s network of protected and conserved areas. It will also develop and establish Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas to support reconciliation efforts.
Q. What are some of the Government of Canada’s recent investments related to managing wildfires in Canada?
- To reduce the impact of wildfires, the Government of Canada is providing an initial investment of $57 million over the next ten years towards building a fire detection and monitoring satellite called WildFireSat (WFS).
- The WFS is a collaboration between NRCan’s Canadian Forest Service (CFS), Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the WFS will allow for better and timelier detection and monitoring of wildland fires, smoke and air quality forecasting, as well as improved wildfire carbon emission reporting.
Q. How will this help Canadians?
- The WFS will provide Canadians with more accurate and timely information on wildfire activity, so they can take appropriate actions to protect themselves, their family and property from the effects of wildfires.
- The data from WFS will optimize wildfire detection to help better understand the effects the changing climate has on wildland fires.
- ECCC’s use of WFS data will enable better detection, validation and prediction of air quality aspects that include wildland fire pollutants.
- Having the best forecasting products, such as those derived from WFS, support ECCC’s mission to provide Canadians with the best weather related information to make decisions about their health and safety.
Q. What is the Government doing to protect the Wood Bison herd?
- The Minister of Environment and Climate Change has determined that Wood Bison are facing imminent threats to their recovery.
- The main threats to the species include the risk of disease, habitat loss as well as unregulated harvest.
- Managing species at risk, such as Wood Bison, is primarily a provincial and territorial responsibility.
- The Government of Canada will continue to work with the Government of Alberta and local Indigenous communities to put robust plans in place to address the imminent threats to Wood Bison.
- The Government of Canada recognizes the efforts of the Government of Alberta to create the Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Provincial Park, which provides important habitat for Wood Bison.
Q. Why has the Minister of Environment and Climate Change determined the Wood Bison are imminently threatened?
- Wood Bison are facing imminent threats to their recovery, including diseases and habitat loss. The Ronald Lake and Wabasca herds in northeastern Alberta are of particular conservation concern. The key threats to the Ronald Lake Herd are the risk of contracting two bovine diseases from diseased bison in Wood Buffalo National Park, as well as habitat loss and disturbance. With fewer than 20 individuals in the Wabasca herd, the imminent threat is unregulated harvest.
Q. Does the finding that Wood Bison are facing imminent threats to their recovery mean that an emergency protection order will be issued?
- The Government of Canada can consider a number of factors when considering a recommendation for an emergency order, including conservation benefits as well as socio-economic impacts.
Species at Risk
- The Government of Canada has been working closely with provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples, and other partners on species at risk conservation to reach better outcomes for species at risk.
- In collaboration with the provinces and territories, the Government of Canada has agreed to implement the Pan-Canadian Approach to Transforming Species at Risk Conservation in Canada, which will shift from a single-species approach to conservation to one that focuses on multiple species and ecosystem-based approaches. The government identified and confirmed a set of shared priorities for priority places, species, sectors and threats.
- The federal Canada Nature Fund committed up to $200 million over five years for various funding initiatives to help with the protection and recovery of species at risk.
- In September 2019, through the Canada Nature Fund, the Government of Canada announced that up to $7.6 million was invested in 52 projects across the country. Of the 52 new projects, 15 projects are for community-nominated priority places for species at risk in key areas across Canada. These areas were selected through an open call for applications across Canada.
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