Species at Risk Act annual report 2012: chapter 4

4 Recovery Planning for Listed Species

4.1 Legislative Background

A wide range of measures are required for the recovery of species at risk. Under SARA, the competent ministers must prepare recovery strategies and action plans for species listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened. Recovery strategies identify threats to the species and its habitat, identify critical habitat to the extent possible, and set population and distribution objectives for the species. Action plans outline the actions to be taken to meet the objectives in the recovery strategy. Management plans include measures for species listed as special concern.

Table 6 shows the required timelines for developing recovery strategies and management plans. The timelines for developing action plans are set within the recovery strategies. Posting of SARA recovery documents is the responsibility of the federal competent minister for the species; however, they must be developed, to the extent possible, in cooperation and consultation with all relevant jurisdictions and directly affected parties. Where provincial and territorial governments prepare recovery planning documents, the federal government prefers to adopt them under SARA; in these cases, the federal government may include an addition to ensure that SARA's requirements for recovery documents are met.

Table 6: Timeline for developing recovery documents (in years)

Note: Table 6 has been split into two separate components: Recovery strategy and Management plan.

Recovery strategy
Species listing date Status: Endangered Status: Threatened or extirpated
June 5, 2003
3
4
New listings after June 5, 2003
1
2
Reassessed Schedule 2 or 3 listings, after June 5, 2003
3
4

 

Management plan
Species listing date Status: Special concern
June 5, 2003
5
New listings after June 5, 2003
3
Reassessed Schedule 2 or 3 listings, after June 5, 2003
5

Proposed recovery strategies, action plans and management plans are posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry for a 60-day public comment period. The competent ministers consider comments and make changes where appropriate. The final documents are to be posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry within 30 days of the close of the public comment period. Five years after a recovery strategy, action plan or management plan comes into effect, the competent minister must report on progress made toward the stated objectives.

4.2 Recovery Planning

In 2012, the federal government continued its effort to improve and enable effective and consistent implementation of the federal Species at Risk Recovery Program. Environment Canada, the Parks Canada Agency, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada collaborated to finalize revised templates and guidelines for the development of action plans, including guidance on evaluation of the socio-economic costs of an action plan and the benefits to be derived from its implementation. Work also included developing working definitions of recovery and survival, and laying policy groundwork for revising guidelines on setting population and distribution objectives.

Environment Canada's work to address the backlog of recovery documents has produced significant results. Building on considerable progress in 2010 and 2011, Environment Canada posted recovery documents for 47 species in 2012, and a large number of recovery documents have been drafted and are expected to be posted in the near future. Environment Canada has developed a new version of its Critical Habitat Identification Toolbox that offers recovery practitioners additional support in completing scientifically sound and well-documented identification of critical habitat. In addition, a training program addressing the new policy and guidance initiatives was developed for Environment Canada staff.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada made notable improvements in recovery planning over the past few years. The Department established, and is implementing, a robust national work planning process which includes the identification of recovery activities as a priority. In 2012, the department posted recovery documents covering 16 species on the SAR registry.

Parks Canada posted recovery planning documents for 12 species in 2012.

Recovery Strategies

A recovery strategy is a planning document that identifies what needs to be done to reverse the decline of a threatened or endangered species. It sets population and distribution objectives that will assist the recovery and survival of species, and identifies the threats to the species and its habitat and the main activities to address these threats. A single recovery strategy may address multiple species at risk. Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the Parks Canada Agency use a multi-species/ecosystem-based approach for the recovery of species at risk where appropriate.

On October 5, 2012, Environment Canada posted the final recovery strategy for the Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), Boreal population in Canada on the Species at Risk Public Registry. The posting of the final recovery strategy for the Boreal population of the Woodland Caribou (i.e., boreal caribou) followed an extended public comment period from August 26, 2011, to February 22, 2012, on the proposed version of the recovery strategy. Environment Canada received over 19 000 comments on the proposed recovery strategy from Aboriginal communities and organizations, stakeholder groups, other governments, and the Canadian public. Comments touched on all sections of the proposed recovery strategy, although the majority focused on the population and distribution objectives, and the identification of critical habitat. The final recovery strategy includes an identification of critical habitat for all boreal caribou ranges across Canada, except for northern Saskatchewan's Boreal Shield range. As required under SARA, the final recovery strategy includes a schedule of studies to complete the identification of critical habitat. The final recovery strategy is based on the best available information from Aboriginal traditional knowledge and scientific studies, and outlines a practical and realistic way to recover Canada's boreal caribou.

Boreal caribou

Boreal caribou © John A. Nagy

In 2012, all three competent departments continued to work on recovery strategies at various stages of development. Recovery strategies that were posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry are listed in Table 7.

Table 7: Number of recovery strategies posted in 2012, and the listed species at risk covered by them, by competent department

Note: Table 7 has been split in two sections: Proposed recovery strategies and Final recovery strategies.

Proposed recovery strategies
Competent department Number Species covered
Environment Canada

16

  • Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander (Great Lakes/St. Lawrence population)
  • American Marten (Newfoundland population)
  • Anticosti Aster
  • Branched Phacelia
  • Flooded Jellyskin
  • Grand Coulee Owl-clover
  • Gulf of St. Lawrence Aster
  • Horned Grebe (Magdalen Islands population)
  • Nugget Moss
  • Pink Milkwort
  • Piping Plover melodus subspecies
  • Poweshiek Skipperling
  • Rusty Cord-moss
  • Sand-verbena Moth
  • Southern Maidenhair Fern
  • Van Brunt's Jacob's-ladder
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

8

  • Copper Redhorse
  • Eastern Sand Darter (Ontario population)
  • Northern Madtom
  • Pugnose Shiner
  • Rocky Mountain Sculpin (Eastslope populations)
  • Salish Sucker
  • Shortnose Cisco
  • Spotted Gar
Parks Canada Agency

6

  • Dense Spike-primrose
  • Foothill Sedge
  • White Meconella
  • Coast Microseris
  • Fragrant Popcornflower
  • Lindley's False Silverpuffs

 

Final recovery strategies
Competent departmen Numbe Species covered
Environment Canada

25

  • Acadian Flycatcher
  • Anticosti Aster
  • Blunt-lobed Woodsia
  • Branched Phacelia
  • Burrowing Owl
  • Eastern Prairie Fringed-orchid
  • Fernald's Braya
  • Grand Coulee Owl-clover
  • Gulf of St. Lawrence Aster
  • Hooded Warbler
  • King Rail
  • Long's Braya
  • Maritime Ringlet
  • Nugget Moss
  • Ord's Kangaroo Rat
  • Piping Plover melodus subspecies
  • Poweshiek Skipperling
  • Rusty Cord-moss
  • Sand-verbena Moth
  • Showy Goldenrod
  • Skinner's Agalinis
  • Slender Mouse-ear-cress
  • Small-flowered Sand-verbena
  • Van Brunt's Jacob's-ladder
  • Victorin's Gentian
  • White Prairie Gentian
  • Woodland Caribou (Boreal population)
  • *Total of 27 species covered
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

7

  • Beluga Whale (St. Lawrence Estuary population)
  • Copper Redhorse
  • Eastern Sand Darter (Ontario population)
  • Northern Madtom
  • Rocky Mountain Sculpin (Eastslope populations)
  • Shortnose Cisco
  • Spotted Gar
Parks Canada Agency

5

  • Eastern Ribbonsnake – Atlantic population
  • Blanding's Turtle – Nova Scotia population
  • Baikal Sedge
  • Common Hoptree
  • Rayless Goldfields

Identification of Critical Habitat

SARA defines “critical habitat” as the habitat that is necessary for the survival or recovery of a listed wildlife species. Competent ministers must identify critical habitat to the extent possible, based on the best available information, in recovery strategies and action plans. Environment Canada, the Parks Canada Agency, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada continued to work with government and non-government stakeholders to address policy development, intergovernmental responsibilities and the science associated with identifying critical habitat.

Building on the progress made in previous years, Environment Canada identified critical habitat for 24 species in final recovery documents during the 2012 calendar year. Critical habitat was also identified for an additional 6 species in proposed documents that were posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry.

In 2012, Fisheries and Oceans Canada posted recovery strategies with identified critical habitat for four aquatic species: Spotted Gar, Eastern Sand Darter (Ontario population), Pugnose Shiner and Rocky Mountain Sculpin. A new proposed recovery strategy, with identified critical habitat, has been developed for the Channel Darter and is expected to be posted in 2013. The Department has also revised recovery strategies for seven other species (Snuffbox, Kidneyshell, Round Hickorynut, Northern Riffleshell, Round Pigtoe, Salamander Mussel and Rayed Bean) to include critical habitat following years of research.

In 2012, the Parks Canada Agency identified critical habitat in final recovery strategies for five species: Baikal Sedge, Blanding's Turtle (Nova Scotia population), Eastern Ribbonsnake (Atlantic population), Common Hoptree and Rayless Goldfields. The Agency also identified critical habitat for six species in proposed recovery strategies posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry: Dense Spike-primrose, Foothill Sedge, White Meconella, Coast Microseris, Fragrant Popcornflower and Lindley's False Silverpuffs.

Critical habitat of the Northern Saw-whet Owl, brooksisubspecies

The Northern Saw-whet Owl is widespread in North America, but a subspecies of this tiny owl (the brooksi subspecies) is limited to the Haida Gwaii archipelago off the coast of British Columbia. The brooksi owls have some interesting habits, such as foraging in the intertidal zone of the coastline during winter, but little is known of what habitat is critical to their survival and recovery. Since 2010, Parks Canada and the Province of British Columbia have been studying the brooksi subspecies with a primary objective to gather sufficient information to allow detailed mapping of habitat use. To date, the project has captured and tagged 40 owls on Haida Gwaii, and put radio transmitters on birds in both summer and winter, allowing for mapping of their home range usage in both seasons. This will result in better critical habitat maps over the coming years as data collected is analyzed.

Northern Saw-whet Owl, brooksi subspecies, with a standard leg band used for identification if recaptured or otherwise recovered.

Northern Saw-whet Owl, brooksi subspecies, with a standard leg band used for identification if recaptured or otherwise recovered. © Parks Canada, Photo: Ross Vennesland

Action Plans

An action plan identifies the conservation measures required to meet the population and distribution objectives outlined in the recovery strategy. An action plan may also identify critical habitat or complete the identification of critical habitat if it is not fully identified in the recovery strategy. An action plan also includes information on measures proposed to protect that critical habitat, methods proposed to monitor the recovery of the species, and an evaluation of the socio-economic costs of the action plan and benefits to be derived from its implementation.

In 2012, Environment Canada posted final action plans for one species (Red Crossbill percna subspecies) on the Species at Risk Public Registry.

Parks Canada is developing site-based multi-species action plans that will prioritize conservation actions for the suite of species at risk found in Parks Canada heritage places. In 2012, Parks Canada completed guidance for the development of site-based action plans. When possible, these will take an ecosystem-based approach, and in some cases will include lands outside of heritage places. In 2012, Parks Canada continued the development of nine multi-species action plans.

In 2012, the Action Plan for the Northern Abalone in Canada was finalized and posted on the SARA registry. Fisheries and Oceans Canada also conducted regional consultations on a number of draft action plans for species including Nooksack Dace, Salish Sucker and Cultus Pygmy Sculpin.

Management Plans

Species of special concern are those that may become threatened or endangered because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats. Under SARA, management plans are prepared for species of special concern, rather than recovery strategies and action plans.

A management plan differs from a recovery strategy and an action plan in that it identifies conservation measures needed to prevent a species of special concern from becoming threatened or endangered. Where appropriate, these management plans will be prepared for multiple species on an ecosystem or landscape level.

In 2012, all three competent departments continued to develop management plans. The management plans that were posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry in 2012 are listed in Table 8.

Table 8: Number of management plans posted in 2012, and the listed species at risk covered by them, by competent department

Note: Table 8 has been split into two parts: Proposed management plans and Final management plans.

Proposed management plans
Competent departmen Number Species covered
Environment Canada

9

  • American Hart's-tongue Fern
  • Flammulated Owl
  • Great Plains Toad
  • Long-billed Curlew
  • Northern Leopard Frog (Western Boreal/Prairie populations)
  • Prototype Quillwort
  • Pygmy Snaketail
  • Swamp Rose-mallow
  • Yellow Rail
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

2*

  • Bluntnose Sixgill Shark
  • Longspine Thornyhead
  • Rougheye Rockfish type I
  • Rougheye Rockfish type II
  • Tope
Parks Canada Agency

1

  • Hill's Pondweed

 

Final management plans
Competent department Number Species covered
Environment Canada

5

  • Columbian Carpet Moss
  • Cryptic Paw Lichen
  • Louisiana Waterthrush
  • Prototype Quillwort
  • Woodland Caribou (Northern Mountain population)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

4*

  • Bluntnose Sixgill Shark
  • Columbia Sculpin
  • Grass Pickerel
  • Longspine Thornyhead
  • Rougheye Rockfish type I
  • Rougheye Rockfish type II
  • Tope
Parks Canada Agency

0

 

*It is possible that the number of plans completed may be different than the number of species covered. A plan can cover more than one species.

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