2019 amendment to schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act: migratory birds

A review of the potential environmental impacts of amendments to the list of species at risk under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) published in the Canada Gazette.

The SARA provides protections to species at risk by:

Species can be added to the list of species at risk (Schedule 1 of SARA) under various designations depending on the severity of the risk of disappearance from the wild in Canada. Following listing, species designated as endangered, threatened or extirpated benefit from SARA’s general prohibitions, including protections against the killing, harming or harassing and against damaging or destroying their residences (i.e. nests, burrows, etc.). SARA also requires recovery planning efforts to address threats to the survival or recovery of the listed species.

A special concern status in Schedule 1 of SARA does not trigger the general prohibitions, but a management plan is developed. This plan includes conservation measures to preserve the wildlife species and avoid a future decline of its populations.

The Order Amending Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (the Order) helps protect 9 migratory bird species at risk by adding them or by updating their designation on the list of species at risk. The objective of the Order is to protect species so they can recover. COSEWIC reassesses species every 10 years, which is one of the ways to monitor the health of the species.  Monitoring will also be done through the recovery plans or management plans to be developed for the species and reassessed every 5 years.

Table 1: Modifications to Schedule 1 of SARA

Species added to Schedule 1 of SARA
Legal population name Scientific name Previous status New status Range
Black Swift Cypseloides niger None Endangered British Columbia, Alberta
Cassin’s Auklet Ptychoramphus aleuticus None Special concern British Columbia, Pacific Ocean
Evening Grosbeak Coccothraustes vespertinus None Special concern Everywhere in Canada except Nunavut
Lark Bunting Calamospiza melanocorys None Threatened Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba
Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus None Special concern Everywhere in Canada
Species reclassified on Schedule 1 of SARA
Legal population name Scientific name Previous status New status Range
Louisiana Waterthrush Parkesia motacilla Special Concern Threatened Ontario, Quebec
McCown's Longspur Rhynchophanes mccownii Special Concern Threatened Alberta, Saskatchewan
Pink-footed Shearwater Ardenna creatopus Threatened Endangered British Columbia, Pacific Ocean
Red Crossbill percna subspecies Loxia curvirostra percna Endangered Threatened Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador

The economic impacts of making these modifications have been assessed and it was determined that they will have a low socio-economic impact.

Protecting species at risk in Canada helps to maintain biodiversity. Protecting species at risk can help maintain ecosystem function and services, such as natural pest control, pollination, temperature regulation and carbon fixing. Ecosystem functions and services in turn are important to the health of Canadians and have important ties to Canada’s economy. Small changes in an ecosystem can result in the loss of individuals and species, which can lead to irreversible and wide-ranging effects.

The Order supports the following the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) goals:

It also supports the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) concerning SDG 15 Life on Land and SDG 13 Climate Action.

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