Species at Risk Act annual report for 2011: chapter 7

7 Consultation and Governance

7.1 Consultation with Aboriginal Groups and Other Stakeholders

7.1.1 National Aboriginal Council on Species at Risk

SARA recognizes that the role of Aboriginal peoples in the conservation of wildlife is essential and that Aboriginal peoples possess unique traditional knowledge concerning wildlife species. The National Aboriginal Council on Species at Risk (NACOSAR), composed of representatives of Aboriginal peoples in Canada, was created under section 8.1 of SARA to advise the Minister of the Environment on the administration of the Act and to provide advice and recommendations to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (see section 7.2.1).

In 2011, NACOSAR held five face-to-face meetings and numerous teleconferences. Activities and accomplishments throughout 2011 include the following:

  • NACOSAR developed a five-year strategic Plan that focuses on four key outcomes: 1) operate as an established and effective Council fully utilized by the Minister of Environment, the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC), and Aboriginal Peoples; 2) provide sound policy advice on legislation and the implementation of Aboriginal traditional knowledge within the Species at Risk Act that leads to actions and measurable results; 3) build an effective dialogue between Aboriginal Peoples and NACOSAR resulting in an enhanced two-way understanding and valuable policy advice; and 4) increase Aboriginal peoples' involvement in the Species at Risk Act processes and promote education of species at risk in curricula.
  • NACOSAR and Policy Planning Committee members continued to provide input on guidance documents incorporating ATK into the implementation of SARA at regional workshops led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
  • NACOSAR held a joint meeting with the COSEWIC ATK Subcommittee to build on the relationship and to support and collaborate on each other's work.
  • A representative of NACOSAR met with the Species at Risk Advisory Committee (SARAC) to raise awareness of NACOSAR's work.

7.1.2 Species at Risk Advisory Committee

The purpose of the Species at Risk Advisory Committee (SARAC) is to provide advice on the implementation of SARA to the Species at Risk Assistant Deputy Ministers' Committee, and to promote and encourage the effective stewardship of Canada's biological diversity and provide advice on federal programs and activities related to species at risk, so as to achieve the purposes of SARA.

SARAC consists of a maximum of 20 members drawn from a balanced number of non-governmental, industry and agriculture organizations, and other parties that are national in scope and nationally recognized as possessing particular expertise in wildlife science, public policy, and law development and/or implementation -- all of whom are concerned with the effective implementation of SARA.

SARAC met in Ottawa for two face-to-face meetings in 2011. Presentations, discussions and advice on SARA implementation included:

  • updates from Environment Canada on key files and initiatives (e.g., boreal caribou recovery strategy, renewal of SARA funding, policy suite, National Conservation Plan);
  • DFO presentations on permitting guidelines for aquatic species and non-listing of species;
  • a series of case studies from SARAC members to review real-life examples of species recovery efforts to facilitate group learning; and
  • participation of a NACOSAR member as a step towards building a relationship and promoting dialogue on like-minded issues.

7.1.3 Strategic Plan for Aboriginal Involvement in the Aquatic Species at Risk Program

Given the number of management units involved in SARA delivery at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, both nationally and regionally, the Strategic Plan for Aboriginal Involvement in the Aquatic Species at Risk Program was developed in 2009 to provide national consistency on the objectives, priorities, strategies and critical outcomes of Aboriginal involvement in the Aquatic Species at Risk Program. The Strategic Plan is helping guide the implementation of SARA at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and is serving as a support tool for a five-year period (2009–2014).

7.1.4 Aboriginal Engagement Sessions on the Draft Guidance Document on Considering Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge in Species at Risk Act Implementation

In 2011, Fisheries and Oceans Canada hosted two meetings (Winnipeg and Toronto) with approximately 63 Aboriginal groups from across its Central and Arctic Region to review and discuss the draft Guidance Document on Considering Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge in Species at Risk Act Implementation. The purpose of this guidance document will be to provide guidance to federal SARA practitioners on how to work with Aboriginal peoples in the implementation of SARA, and on how to consider Aboriginal traditional knowledge in a respectful and meaningful way throughout the SARA conservation cycle. Aboriginal input into the document is a crucial aspect of its development.

7.1.5 Species at Risk – Aboriginal Interdepartmental Committee

The Species at Risk – Aboriginal Interdepartmental Committee, established in 2004, continued in 2011 to work collaboratively with the Atlantic Aboriginal community to encourage and strengthen the involvement of Aboriginal peoples and promote the consideration and inclusion of Aboriginal traditional knowledge (ATK) in the implementation of species at risk activities in Atlantic Canada. This committee is composed of representatives from Fisheries and Oceans Canada's three Atlantic Regions, Environment Canada, the Parks Canada Agency, and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

The committee continued to work with the Atlantic Aboriginal Protection of Species Committee (AAPSC), which is composed of representatives from Atlantic Aboriginal organizations. In March 2011, funding was provided to the AAPSC to deliver a train-the-trainer workshop where individuals were trained on how to conduct interviews to gather ATK on the American Eel and other species at risk. A total of 16 people from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador participated in the three-day workshop.

7.2 Cooperation with Other Jurisdictions

SARA recognizes that the responsibility for conservation of wildlife in Canada is shared by federal, provincial and territorial governments. The federal government is responsible for terrestrial species found on federal lands, as well as aquatic species and migratory birds, while the provincial and territorial governments are primarily responsible for other species. SARA is designed to work with provincial and territorial legislation.

The federal, provincial and territorial governments agreed to the National Framework for Species at Risk Conservation in June 2007. This framework supports implementation of the 1996 Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk by providing a set of common principles, objectives and overarching approaches for species at risk conservation to guide federal, provincial and territorial species at risk programs and policies. The framework's objectives are to:

  • facilitate coordination and cooperation among jurisdictions involved with species at risk;
  • encourage greater national coherence and consistency in jurisdictional policies and procedures; and
  • provide context and common ground for federal–provincial–territorial bilateral agreements.

7.2.1 Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council

The Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) was established under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, and is formally recognized under SARA. The CESCC is made up of federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for conservation and management of species at risk. Under SARA, the CESCC provides general direction on the activities of COSEWIC, the preparation of recovery strategies, and the preparation and implementation of action plans, and coordinates the activities of the various governments represented on the council related to the protection of species at risk.

Neither the CESCC nor its Deputy Minister's Committee met in 2011.

7.2.2 Bilateral Administrative Agreements

Administrative agreements are intended to foster collaboration on the implementation of SARA and provincial and territorial species at risk legislation. The establishment of governance structures for inter-jurisdictional cooperation is central to the effective implementation of the Act.

The Government is negotiating bilateral administrative agreements on species at risk with all provinces and territories. The agreements set out shared objectives, and commitments for the governments to cooperate on species at risk initiatives. As of 2011, agreements have been signed with the governments of British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan, and a Memorandum of Understanding is in place with the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board. Agreements with other provinces and territories are at various stages of negotiation.

7.2.3 Canadian Wildlife Directors Committee

The Canadian Wildlife Directors Committee (CWDC) plays an important role in inter-jurisdictional cooperation on species at risk. The committee, co-chaired by Environment Canada and a province or territory on a rotating basis (Prince Edward Island in 2011), is comprised of federal, provincial and territorial wildlife directors, including representatives from Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the Parks Canada Agency. As an advisory body on wildlife issues, the CWDC provides leadership in the development and coordination of policies, strategies, programs and activities that address wildlife issues of national concern and help conserve biodiversity. It also advises and supports the CESCC and the Wildlife Ministers' Council of Canada's Deputy Ministers' and Ministers' councils on these matters.

The CWDC meets twice a year, and has monthly teleconferences. An action plan and strategic agenda is approved by the Deputy Ministers for CWDC to work on various issues. The CWDC provides a forum for collaboration and integration of management and administration of federal and provincial/territorial species at risk programs, and tackles challenging policy issues. Priority actions for 2011 included the first steps towards streamlining federal and provincial-territorial consultation processes; providing guidance on the General Status of Wildlife Report and working with the Recovery to National Endangered Wildlife (RENEW) program to streamline efforts in recovery planning.

7.2.4 National General Status Working Group

The National General Status Working Group (NGSWG), composed of representatives from the federal government and all provincial and territorial governments, was established by the CWDC to meet the commitment of monitoring, assessing and reporting on the status of wildlife, as required under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk. Members of the group are responsible for completing the general status assessments of species in their jurisdictions, which the group then uses to produce the Wild Species: The General Status of Species in Canada reports.

Environment Canada is co-chair and coordinator of the NGSWG; the other co-chair is currently the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Other members from the federal government include the Parks Canada Agency and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. In 2009, three ex-officio members joined the working group: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and NatureServe Canada. Members of the working group are responsible to the CWDC and ultimately to the CESCC.

In 2011, the NGSWG prepared the general status assessments of several groups of species for inclusion in the next report, Wild Species 2015.

7.3 Federal Coordinating Committees

The federal government has established governance structures to support federal implementation of SARA and its supporting programs. Several committees, composed of senior officials from Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the Parks Canada Agency, meet regularly to discuss policy and strategic issues, and to monitor SARA implementation. These include:

  • the Species at Risk Deputy Ministers Steering Committee;
  • the Species at Risk Assistant Deputy Ministers Committee; and
  • the Species at Risk Directors-General Operations Committee.

The Species at Risk Assistant Deputy Ministers Committee and the Species at Risk Directors-General Operations Committee met regularly in 2011 to discuss and provide direction on matters related to SARA implementation, such as:

  • ongoing improvements to the SARA program including SARA listing and recovery efforts;
  • development and implementation of bilateral agreements, various policies, and program renewal; and
  • approval of priorities and projects under the three species at risk funding programs (Habitat Stewardship Program, Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk and Interdepartmental Recovery Fund).

7.4 Species at Risk Public Registry

The online Species at Risk Public Registry fulfills the requirement under SARA for the Minister of the Environment to establish a public registry for the purpose of facilitating access to SARA-related documents. Information in the Species at Risk Public Registry is maintained through the collaborative efforts of partners and stakeholders, and is an important tool in engaging and informing Canadians on species at risk issues. In addition to providing access to documents and information related to the Act, the Public Registry provides a forum for Canadians to submit comments on SARA-related documents being developed by the Government of Canada. It has been accessible since the proclamation of SARA in 2003.

Section 123 of SARA identifies documents that must be published on the Public Registry, including:

  • regulations and orders made under the Act;
  • agreements entered into under section 10 of the Act;
  • COSEWIC's criteria for the classification of wildlife species;
  • status reports on wildlife species that COSEWIC has prepared or has received with an application;
  • the List of Wildlife Species at Risk;
  • codes of practice, national standards, or guidelines established under the Act;
  • agreements and reports filed under section 111 or subsection 113(2) of the Act, or notices that these have been filed in court and are available to the public; and
  • all reports made under sections 126 and 128 of the Act.

Other documents prepared in response to the requirements of SARA include recovery strategies, action plans, management plans, and reports on round-table meetings.

In 2011, 415 documents were published on the registry. Documents included SARA and COSEWIC annual reports, consultation documents, COSEWIC status reports and species assessments, ministerial response statements, recovery strategies, management plans, species profiles, and over one hundred permit explanations. Consultations in 2011 were again on the upswing with many Canadians voicing their opinions on the proposed listing of various species. Some of the most popular areas visited on the site for 2011 include the text of the Act, the A to Z Species Index and individual species profiles.

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