Species at Risk Act annual report 2014: chapter 5

5 Recovery Planning for Listed Species

5.1 Legislative Requirements

Under SARA, the competent ministers must prepare recovery strategies and action plans for species listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened and management plans for those listed as special concern. 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, but do not identify critical habitat.

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.

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
New listings after June 5, 2003
Reassessed Schedule 2 or 3 listings, after June 5, 2003


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

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 recovery strategy or action plan, as applicable, is to be published in the public registry within 30 days after the expiry 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.

5.2 Recovery Planning Activities in 2014

As of April 2014, proposed recovery strategies or management plans for 189 species under the responsibility of Environment Canada had not yet been posted. On December 17, 2014, an additional 3 species were added to Schedule 1.

In 2014, Environment Canada published a plan to publish proposed recovery strategies and management plans for these 192 species over three years in a prioritized manner based on consideration of immediate threats and population declines as well as program priorities and information availability. The posting plan and progress in publishing proposed recovery strategies and management plans to date are available on the Species at Risk Public Registry.

5.2.1 Recovery Strategies

In 2014, Environment Canada posted proposed recovery strategies for 25 species and final recovery strategies for 18 species. Fisheries and Oceans Canada posted final recovery strategies for 7 aquatic species. Parks Canada completed and posted final recovery strategies for 3 species. New recovery strategies that were posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry are listed in Table 7. Fisheries and Oceans Canada also published a revised recovery strategy on the registry for North Atlantic Right Whale.

Table 7: Species for which recovery strategies were posted in 2014 by competent department
Competent department Proposed recovery strategies:
Final recovery strategies:
Environment Canada Behr's (Columbia) Hairstreak
Dense Blazing Star
Five-lined Skink, Carolinian population
Golden-winged Warbler
Greater Short-horned Lizard
Half-moon Hairstreak
Kentucky Coffee-tree
Loggerhead Shrike Prairie excubitorides ssp.
Marbled Murrelet
Oregon Forestsnail
Oregon Spotted Frog
Pacific Water Shrew
Porsild's Bryum
Sage Thrasher
Scarlet Ammannia
Small White Lady’s Slipper
Smooth Goosefoot
Vesper Sparrow affinis ssp.
Vole Ears Lichen
Western Chorus Frog, Great Lakes/St. Lawrence population
Wolverine, E. population
Woodland Caribou, Southern Mountain population
Yellow-breasted Chat auricollis ssp., Southern Mountain population
Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander, Great Lakes/St. Lawrence population
Dense Blazing Star
Eastern Flowering Dogwood
False Hop Sedge
Gold-edged Gem
Greater Sage-Grouse urophasianus ssp.
Ivory Gull
Kentucky Coffee-tree
Least Bittern
Marbled Murrelet
Pacific Water Shrew
Sage Thrasher
Small White Lady’s Slipper
Vole Ears Lichen
White-headed Woodpecker
Williamson's Sapsucker
Woodland Caribou, Southern Mountain population
Fisheries and Oceans Canada   Eastern Sand Darter, Quebec population
Spring Cisco
Westslope Cutthroat Trout, Alberta population
White Sturgeon, Kootenay River population
White Sturgeon, Nechako River population
White Sturgeon, Upper Columbia River population
White Sturgeon, Upper Fraser River population
Parks Canada Agency Slender Popcornflower Gray’s Desert-parsley
Northern Saw-whet Owl brooksi ssp.
Slender Popcornflower


Case Study: Garry Oak Ecosystems

British Columbia’s west coast records the highest annual rainfalls in all of Canada. In contrast to the surrounding rainforests, a land of savannah and prairie lies in the rain shadow of the nearby mountains of Washington State’s Olympic range, along the east coast of Vancouver Island between Victoria and Campbell River.

With its iconic Camas lilies and Garry Oak trees, this area, which has supported Coast Salish communities for thousands of years, is one of the most diverse terrestrial landscapes in British Columbia.

Increased development has put extreme pressure on this area, and over 120 species in this landscape are at risk, including some species that exist nowhere else in the world. More than 40 of these species are protected under the Species at Risk Act.

In 2003, Parks Canada committed to lead on recovery planning for 42 plants and invertebrates that are part of Garry Oak and associated ecosystems. Parks Canada, in partnership with the Garry Oak Ecosystem Recovery Team, has worked with private landowners, local governments, non-governmental organizations, other federal departments and First Nations throughout the region to successfully publish recovery strategies. The final recovery strategy, for Slender Popcornflower, was posted in September 2014 and represents the completion of more than a decade of planning for the recovery of Garry Oak species and the ecosystems they call home. With these recovery strategies as their guide, Canadians now have a framework to preserve these ecosystems for future generations.

Garry Oak ecosystem
Garry Oak ecosystem
Photo: © Parks Canada

5.2.2 Identification of Critical Habitat

SARA defines “critical habitat” as the habitat that is necessary for the survival or recovery of a listed wildlife species and that is identified as the species’ critical habitat in the recovery strategy or in an action plan for the species. Competent ministers must identify critical habitat to the extent possible, based on the best available information, in recovery strategies and action plans.

In 2014, Environment Canada published final recovery strategies in which critical habitat was identified for 16 species, and proposed recovery strategies in which critical habitat was identified for 24 species.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada identified critical habitat in final recovery strategies for seven aquatic species: Eastern Sand Darter (Quebec populations), Spring Cisco, Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Alberta population), White Sturgeon (Nechako River population), White Sturgeon (Upper Columbia River population), White Sturgeon (Upper Fraser River population) and White Sturgeon (Kootenay River population).

The Parks Canada Agency identified critical habitat for all three species for which it published final recovery strategies in 2014 (Northern Saw-whet Owl brooksi subspecies, Slender Popcornflower and Gray’s Desert Parsley). The Agency also identified critical habitat for the Greater Sage-Grouse urophasianus subspecies in an amended recovery strategy.

5.2.3 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 must also to the extent possible 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 2014, Environment Canada posted final action plans for two species (Victorin’s Gentian in Canada and False Hop Sedge in Quebec).

In 2014, Parks Canada continued its site-based, multispecies approach for action plans that will prioritize conservation actions for the suite of species at risk found in Parks Canada heritage places. At the end of 2014, multispecies action plans covering 14 heritage places were in development.

5.2.4 Management Plans

Species of special concern are those that may become threatened or endangered because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats. SARA requires competent ministers to prepare management plans for species of special concern. 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 but does not identify critical habitat. Where appropriate, these management plans may be prepared for multiple species on an ecosystem or landscape level.

In 2014, Environment Canada posted proposed management plans for 14 species and final management plans for 4 species. Fisheries and Oceans Canada posted a proposed management plan for 1 species and final management plans for 2 species. Parks Canada posted a final management plan for 1 species. The species for which management plans were posted in 2014 are listed in Table 8.

Table 8: Species for which management plans were posted in 2014 by competent department
Competent department Proposed management plans:
Final management plans:
Environment Canada Eastern Ribbonsnake, Great Lakes population
Houghton's Goldenrod
McCown's Longspur
Mountain Beaver
Nuttall's Cottontail nuttallii ssp.
Riddell's Goldenrod
Rusty Blackbird
Sonora Skipper
Spotted Bat
Tuberous Indian-plantain
Western Skink
Western Yellow-bellied Racer
Climbing Prairie Rose
Lewis's Woodpecker
McCown's Longspur
Spring Salamander
Fisheries and Oceans Canada Great Lakes Kiyi Bowhead Whale, Bering–Chukchi–Beaufort population
Sea Otter
Parks Canada Agency   Hill’s Pondweed
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