Species at Risk Act annual report 2012: chapter 7

7 Consultation and Governance

7.1 Ministers' Round Table

SARA requires that, at least every two years, the federal Minister of the Environment convene a round table of persons interested in matters respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada.

The fourth SARA round table was held in Ottawa on October 19, 2012, and involved representatives from Aboriginal groups, non-governmental organizations, industry associations and academia.

Diverse views were shared on what has worked well in the implementation of the Act, what some of the challenges have been, and opportunities for improvement, including ways to support collaborative approaches to species conservation.

7.2 Consultation with Aboriginal Groups and Other Stakeholders

7.2.1 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 7.3.1).

In 2012, NACOSAR held several face-to-face meetings and teleconferences. The Council worked on renewing relationships and alliances, and in March met with the Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of the Environment. NACOSAR was invited to participate in the Ministerial Round Table and met jointly with the Species at Risk Advisory Committee (SARAC) and discussed items of mutual interest including permitting, conservation agreements, multi-species/ecosystems approach, and Aboriginal involvement and Aboriginal traditional knowledge throughout SARA.

7.2.2 Species at Risk Advisory Committee

SARAC provides advice on the implementation of SARA to the Species at Risk Assistant Deputy Ministers' Committee, promotes and encourages the effective stewardship of Canada's biological diversity, and provides 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 2012 and held a number of teleconferences. SARAC continued work on a series of case studies examining action planning using multi-species and ecosystem approaches, case studies that demonstrate stewardship and collaborative processes used by the forest and agriculture industries, as well as examples of stewardship in Canada's oceans. SARAC met jointly with NACOSAR to discuss items of mutual interest, including recovery implementation, adaptive management and Aboriginal traditional knowledge in the SARA cycle.

7.2.3 Aboriginal Engagement Sessions on the Draft Guidance Document on Considering Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge in Species at Risk Act Implementation

In 2012, Fisheries and Oceans Canada hosted meetings in Halifax and Montreal to review and discuss the draft Guidance Document on Considering Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge in Species at Risk Act Implementation. Approximately 41 Aboriginal groups from across Central and Arctic, Quebec and Atlantic Regions attended the meetings.

Once finalized, the guidance document will be a key tool to provide advice on how to consider Aboriginal traditional knowledge in a respectful and meaningful way throughout the SARA conservation cycle.

7.3 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.

7.3.1 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 Ministers Committee met in 2012.

7.3.2 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 federal government has negotiated bilateral administrative agreements on species at risk with various provinces and territories. The agreements set out shared objectives, and commitments for the governments to cooperate on species at risk initiatives. As of 2012, 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.

7.3.3 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 (Ontario in 2012), 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 on these matters.

The CWDC meets twice a year and has monthly teleconferences, providing a forum for collaboration and integration of management and administration of federal and provincial/territorial species at risk programs. The CWDC's priority actions for 2012–2013 are comprised of five high-level outcomes: national and international collaborations, species at risk, population conservation, habitat conservation, and public engagement and human dimensions. CWDC members participated in a Cumulative Effects workshop as part of their bi-annual face-to-face meeting to gain a better understanding of the requirements to effectively conserve habitats.

7.3.4 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 2012, the NGSWG prepared the general status assessments of several groups of species for inclusion in the next report, Wild Species 2015.

7.4 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 2012 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).

7.5 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.

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 2012, 418 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, action plans, and 87 permit explanations. Consultations in 2012 were again on the upswing, with many Canadians voicing their opinions on the proposed listing of a variety of species. Of particular interest was the publication of the final version of the Recovery Strategy for the Woodland Caribou, Boreal population (Rangifer tarandus caribou) in Canada, the proposed version of which garnered over 19 000 comments.

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