Species at Risk Act annual report for 2011: chapter 6

6 Monitoring and evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation involves the examination of actions taken to ensure that conservation measures are on the right track and achieving recovery goals and objectives. Specifically, the objectives of monitoring and evaluation are to:

  • detect changes in the conservation status of a species;
  • determine the effectiveness of protection and recovery measures; and
  • measure progress toward achieving recovery goals.

The following key principles guide the monitoring and evaluation process:

  • The process should be based on reliable data. Specifically, the results of actions aimed at protection and recovery will be tracked and evaluated. The activities required to accomplish this tracking and evaluation will be incorporated into recovery plans.
  • The process should reflect adaptive management principles. Recovery goals, objectives and measures will be reviewed in light of monitoring and evaluation results coupled with consideration of significant external factors (e.g., climatic changes). Protection and recovery measures will be adjusted or adapted to reflect new or changed circumstances in the environment and ecosystem within which species live.
  • The process should lead to reassessment. When the situation of a species changes significantly enough to warrant reconsideration of its conservation status, this information will be communicated to the body responsible for species assessment.

6.1 Monitoring

Reviews of Parks Canada's detailed assessments allow the Agency to detect any changes in a species' risk of disappearing from a heritage place (the conservation status). In 2011, 14 parks determined the baseline conservation status of 89 species as reported in the State of Canada's Natural and Historic Places 2011.

In 2011, the Parks Canada Agency continued to monitor its recovery activities as part of its overall monitoring program to assess how well the Agency is achieving its recovery objectives.

Many other monitoring initiatives involving species at risk are ongoing within the heritage areas network of the Parks Canada Agency as part of the regular monitoring program, whether it is to assess the long-term condition of the species or evaluate the results of recovery actions and other management initiatives.

Peregrine Falcons in Pukaskwa National Park

Pukaskwa National Park of Canada staff first noticed that the Peregrine Falcon anatum (Falco peregrinus anatum) had returned to the park in 1998, when two adults were observed displaying breeding behaviour. Found throughout North America, the populations of Peregrine Falcon were dramatically reduced by the widespread use of DDT during the latter half of the 20th century. Falcon ingested DDT from their prey which not only disrupted their breeding behaviour but also resulted in the production of thinner eggshells. Peregrine Falcon anatum, one of three subspecies, endured the greatest population collapse. By 1975, only 35 nesting pairs remained in Canada.

Ontario's recovery program for the Peregrine Falcon is part of a larger Canadian and North American effort to restore this species to its former range. Pukaskwa National Park contributes to this initiative not only through the protection of its habitat but also by monitoring and reporting on the number of individuals found within the park, thereby increasing our knowledge of the progress of the recovery of the species. The good news is that the three Peregrine Falcon territories in use since 2000, with a nest in each territory, have been consistent in producing fledglings. In 2011, six fledglings were observed with one or more in each of the three nests.


Peregrine Falcon feeding chicks. © Tom Lusk

Peregrine Falcon feeding chicks. © Tom Lusk


Pukaskwa National Park. © Parks Canada Agency

Pukaskwa National Park. © Parks Canada Agency

6.2 Parliamentary five-year review of SARA

Section 129 of SARA requires that five years after that section comes into force (the section came into force on June 5, 2003), a committee of the House of Commons, Senate or both Houses of Parliament is to be designated or established for the purpose of reviewing the Act. The Parliamentary five-year review of SARA was referred to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development on February 24, 2009. In March 2011, representatives from Environment Canada, the Parks Canada Agency and Fisheries and Oceans Canada appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. An election was called before the committee reported on its review.

More information on the Parliamentary five-year review, including testimony of witnesses, can be found on the SARA Public Registry and the House of Commons' Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

6.3 SARA general status report

SARA requires that a general report on the status of wildlife species be prepared five years after section 128 comes into force (2003) and every five years thereafter. The report's purpose is to provide Canadians with an overview of which wild species are doing fine, which should be monitored, and which need to be formally assessed or reassessed by COSEWIC. Reports entitled Wild Species: The General Status of Species in Canada (see section 2.1), prepared by a federal–provincial–territorial group of experts, serve as the basis to fulfill this requirement. To meet the next reporting requirement, the Minister of Environment will table the complete Wild Species 2010 report in Parliament in 2012. These documents fulfill the Minister of the Environment's obligation under SARA to provide a general report on Canada's wildlife. The first report is available on the Species at Risk Public Registry.

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