Species at Risk Act annual report 2014: chapter 9

9 Consultation and Governance

9.1 Minister’s 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 fifth SARA round table was held in Ottawa on November 17, 2014, and involved representatives from government, Aboriginal communities, industry, wildlife management boards, ranchers, hunters and trappers, and non-governmental organizations. The discussion focused on areas where the federal government can increase effective actions by all Canadians to conserve species at risk and improve implementation of SARA, including Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge, SARA and the North, and efforts to enhance stewardship of species at risk.

9.2 Consultation with Aboriginal Groups

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 2014, NACOSAR held face-to-face meetings and teleconferences to share information and discuss such topics as emergency listings, socio-economic analysis, SARA policies under development, and Aboriginal involvement and Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge throughout SARA. NACOSAR initiated work on consultation, accommodation and cooperation with Aboriginal groups, and methods used for socio-economic assessment.

9.3 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.

9.3.1 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. Agreements with the governments of Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan and British Columbia are in place, and there is a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board.

9.3.2 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 (Nova Scotia in 2014), 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 comprised five high-level outcomes: national and international collaboration on implementation of wildlife and habitat conservation and management; effective and efficient coordination of actions regarding the conservation of species at risk; collaborative ways to promote conservation of healthy wildlife populations; collaborative ways to promote provision of habitat for wildlife; and public engagement to facilitate an understanding of Canadian values and promote wildlife conservation. As part of their spring face-to-face meeting in 2014, CWDC members participated in a one-day workshop on effective Aboriginal collaboration and consultation for wildlife management in which invited presenters described management agency experiences and best practices about Aboriginal consultation and collaboration in wildlife conservation issues. At the fall face-to-face meeting, CWDC members took part in a Species at Risk Workshop on working together on species at risk conservation and protection. Members discussed progress on implementation of the National Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, stewardship actions and multi-species initiatives.

9.3.3 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 2014 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 2014, the NGSWG prepared the general status assessments of several groups of species for inclusion in the next report, Wild Species 2015.

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 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 SARA, 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 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 2014, 416 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. A notable addition to these documents was the publication of Recovery Document Posting Plans for both Environment Canada and Parks Canada, to identify when recovery documents will be posted for specific species.

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