Species at Risk Act annual report for 2017: chapter 1

1. Introduction

1.1 The purpose of the annual report

The purpose of this report is to summarize activities that were carried out in 2017 related to the Species at Risk Act (SARA). It fulfills the Minister of the Environment’s obligation, to prepare an annual report on the administration of SARA each year. The Act states that the report include a summary of:

  1. any assessments done by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada and the Minister’s response to each of them
  2. the preparation and implementation of recovery strategies as well as action plans and management plans
  3. all agreements made under sections 10 to 13
  4. all agreements entered into and permits issued under section 73, and
  5. all agreements and permits amended under section 75 or exempted under section 76
  6. enforcement and compliance actions taken, including the response to any requests for investigation
  7. regulations and emergency orders made under SARA; and
  8. any other matters that the Minister considers relevant

1.2 Background on SARA

SARA is the main legislation relied on by Environment and Climate Change Canada for conserving and protecting Canada’s biological diversity, and helps the Government of Canada meet its international commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity. It also supports the federal commitments under the 1996 Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk to prevent species in Canada from becoming extinct from human activity.

The purpose of the Act:

  • to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct
  • to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity; and
  • to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened

The Act establishes a process for conducting scientific assessments of the status of individual wildlife species and a mechanism for listing extirpated, endangered, threatened and special-concern species. SARA includes requirements for the protection, recovery and management of listed wildlife species, and their critical habitatsFootnote 1 and residences.Footnote 2

The responsibility for conservation of species at risk is shared by all jurisdictions in Canada. The Act recognizes this joint responsibility and that all Canadians have a role to play in the protection of wildlife.

1.3 Implementation of SARA

It is the responsibility of the Minister of the Environment to oversee the overall administration of SARA, except insofar as the Act gives responsibility to another minister (i.e., the other competent minister). The Minister of the Environment is required to seek consultation from the other competent ministers.

The Parks Canada Agency (PCA), the Department o f Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), often referred to as the “competent” departments, share responsibility for the implementation of SARA. The ministers responsible for these organizations are known as the “competent” ministers under SARA. The Minister of the Environment is the minister responsible for both ECCC and PCA.

Ministerial responsibilities are as follows:

  • The Minister of Parks Canada is responsible for individuals of species found in or on federal lands and waters that the agency administers.
  • The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is responsible for aquatic species at risk other than individuals in or on federal lands administered by the Parks Canada Agency.
  • The Minister of the Environment is responsible for all other species at risk.

Success story
BioBlitz and BioBox

In promoting species at risk protection, the Parks Canada Agency (PCA) concluded their 2017 BioBlitz initiative in the context of Canada 150. Parks Canada BioBlitz events contribute to the protection of Parks Canada's heritage places, though scientific biodiversity discovery and meaningful experiences for Canadians to connect to our special places and wildlife.

In order to connect with urban audiences on species at risk, Parks Canada led BioBlitz events, and created nine BioBox outreach kits. The BioBox kits contain fun and easy hands-on activities to inspire discovery, introduce audiences to the idea of biodiversity, and connect people with nature. The BioBox was a key offer to the Learn to Camp Hubs across the country that reached over 70,000 people during the summer of 2017.

During the 2017 Canada 150 celebrations, 29 PCA sites held 32 BioBlitz events. The events had over 5,500 participants and over 320 volunteers, and more than 500 species were counted. Half of the BioBlitz events included a species at risk component.

In addition to identifying 42 species at risk, other highlights included identifying habitat for Monarch butterflies and caterpillars, featuring species at risk experts as keynote speakers, and leading interactive games related to species at risk for youth and families. Half of the events engaged Indigenous communities or profiled Indigenous knowledge. For example, Tuktut Nogait National Park held a Cultural Camp which allowed youth and Elders to connect on the land together. Other events identified and catalogued culturally important species.

Participants at Learn to camp hubs across the country using BioBox.
Photos: Jeffery Lansing - Parks Canada Public Relations

The BioBox was also showcased at key 2017 events including the Toronto Zoo (18,262 people reached), Canadian National Exhibition (3,033 people reached), Inspiration Village as one of the featured installations in the Parks Canada exhibit (1,435 people reached), and World Environment Day in Ontario with Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister McKenna in attendance.

BioBlitz events and other citizen science events provide meaningful data for the PCA to incorporate into decision making processes, and provide opportunities for the public to become actively involved. Through events like these, meaningful connections with nature and other members of the community are created.

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