Species at Risk Act annual report 2013: chapter 9

9 Consultation and Governance

9.1 Consultation with Aboriginal Groups and Other Stakeholders

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 (CESCC).

In 2013, NACOSAR held several face-to-face meetings and teleconferences, and the Council’s membership was renewed. NACOSAR representatives met with both the Canadian Wildlife Directors Committee (see section 9.2.2) and the Species at Risk Advisory Committee (see below) to discuss permitting, conservation agreements, multispecies/ecosystems approach, and Aboriginal involvement and Aboriginal traditional knowledge throughout SARA.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada consulted with Aboriginal groups across Canada on a draft Guidance Document on Considering Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge in Species at Risk Act Implementation. The guidance document will provide advice 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.

The Species at Risk Advisory Committee is an informal committee of 20 members drawn from non-governmental, industry and agriculture organizations, and other parties. This committee has provided advice on the implementation of SARA to government officials.

Two face-to-face meetings of the committee were held in 2013 to provide advice and input on key policy and programming areas concerning the effective implementation of SARA.

9.2 Cooperation with Other Jurisdictions

The responsibility for conservation of wildlife in Canada is shared by federal, provincial and territorial governments. In recognition of this, 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.

9.2.1 Bilateral Administrative Agreements

The federal government has 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. In 2013, the agreement with Quebec was renewed. Agreements with the governments of British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan are in place, and there is a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board.

9.2.2 Canadian Wildlife Directors Committee

The Canadian Wildlife Directors Committee (CWDC) supports inter-jurisdictional cooperation on species at risk. The committee, co-chaired by Environment Canada and a province or territory on a rotating basis (British Columbia in 2013), 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 2013–2014 comprised five high-level outcomes: national and international collaborations, species at risk, population conservation, habitat conservation, and public engagement and human dimensions. As part of their face-to-face meeting in 2013, CWDC members participated in a Human Dimensions in Wildlife Management workshop that looked at understanding the perspective of Canadians toward nature, wildlife and recreational angling.

9.2.3 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 in 2013 was the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Other members from the federal government include the Parks Canada Agency and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and NatureServe Canada are ex-officio members. Members of the working group are responsible to the CWDC and ultimately to the CESCC.

In 2013, the NGSWG prepared the general status assessments of several groups of species for inclusion in the next report, Wild Species 2015.

9.3 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 programs, policy and strategic issues, and to monitor SARA implementation.

9.4 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. The Species at Risk Public Registry 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, it 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 2013, 534 documents were published on the registry. These 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 permit explanations. Consultations in 2013 were again on the upswing, with many Canadians voicing their opinions on the proposed listing of a variety of species. Some of the most popular areas of the site for 2013 included text of the Act, the list of wildlife species at risk and individual species profiles. The volume of comments submitted on various public consultations showed that Canadians remain involved and concerned with protecting species at risk.

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