Critical Habitat of the Fernald’s Braya Order
Key findings from the strategic environmental assessment conducted for the Critical Habitat of the Fernald’s Braya Order (the Order).
Fernald’s Braya (Braya fernaldii) is a small (10 cm tall) herbaceous perennial endemic to the limestone barrens ecosystem on the Island of Newfoundland, Canada. The main threats to the Fernald’s Braya are loss and degradation of habitat due to human activities, as well as non-native species. The Fernald’s Braya, was listed under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) in 2003 as Threatened. Fernald’s Braya was subsequently re-assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in 2012 as Endangered. In February 2018, the species was reclassified from Threatened to Endangered on Schedule 1 of SARA.
As required by SARA, a final recovery strategy for Fernald’s Braya was posted on the Species at Risk (SAR) Public Registry on July 7, 2012. The recovery strategy identified habitat that is necessary for the survival or recovery of the species (also known as critical habitat), some of which occurs on federal lands on the Island of Newfoundland. An action plan for the Fernald's Braya was posted on March 28, 2018 that identified additional critical habitat for the species and provided updated maps of the critical habitat. An amended action plan was posted in October 2020 to allow for a more comprehensive description of the critical habitat, including both the description of the approach and the biophysical attributes.
Loss of habitat is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity and species persistence in the world. Protecting the habitat of species at risk is therefore key to their conservation, and to the preservation of biodiversity. The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change has made an Order to protect the critical habitat of the Fernald’s Braya on federal lands in Canada.
The Order will apply the prohibition against the destruction of critical habitat set out in subsection 58(1) of the SARA to the critical habitat of the Fernald’s Braya on federal lands. The Order will apply on five federal properties located on the Island of Newfoundland. Examples of the types of activities that will be prohibited include, but are not limited to, the following activities:
- the removal of vegetation and/or the organic layer that can result in the destruction of critical habitat;
- substrate compaction and substrate damage (e.g. limestone shattering) that affects normal root function, seedling recruitment, and natural hydrologic patterns; and,
- any activity on critical habitat that may result in the disturbance or alteration of the habitat in such a way as to reduce the quality of habitat by removing substrate or damaging components of the plant community.
This protection supports the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) goal of Healthy wildlife populations. It supports the goal’s medium-term target, “Species that are secure remain secure, and populations of species at risk listed under federal law exhibit trends that are consistent with recovery strategies and management plans.” The Order also supports the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 Life on land.
SARA requires measures such as recovery planning and reporting that will help scientists learn if the Fernald’s Braya is recovering. The SAR Public Registry will be updated with new or additional information related to the species.
More information on the Order is found in the Canada Gazette.
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