Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act- Monarch and Western Bumble Bees

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

The Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (Monarch and Western Bumble Bees) (the Order) helps support three 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 support species so they can recover. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (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.

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, in the form of recovery strategies or action plans.

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

Table 1: Additions or modifications to Schedule 1 of SARA
Common species name Range Action (listing) Old status (listing) New status (listing)
Monarch Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan Reclassification Special concern Endangered
Western Bumble Bee occidentalis subspecies Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan  New addition No status Threatened
Western Bumble Bee mckayi subspecies British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory New addition No status Special concern

The economic impacts of making these additions or modifications have been assessed and it was determined that prohibitions on federal lands will have a low socio-economic impact. Listing these species will preserve associated socio-economic and cultural values, existence and option values as well as benefits from ecosystem services such as pollination. The costs associated with the Order and prohibitions on federal lands are expected to be less than $10 million over 10 years.

Protecting species at risk in Canada helps to maintain biodiversity and 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 2022-2026 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) goal “Protect and recover species, conserve Canadian biodiversity” target “By 2026, increase the percentage of species at risk listed under federal law that exhibit population trends that are consistent with recovery strategies and management plans to 60%, from a baseline of 42% in 2019” by helping ensure that species are provided appropriate protection. The Order moreover contributes to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 “Life on land” of the United Nation’s Agenda 2030 to halt biodiversity loss, protect biodiversity and natural habitat by preventing the extinction of threatened species. It also supports the recently adopted Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and the overarching global goal regarding the “sustainable use and management of biodiversity to ensure that nature’s contributions to people are valued, maintained, and enhanced”.

By supporting the conservation of biodiversity, and maintenance of healthy ecosystems, the Order indirectly contributes to the 2022-2026 FSDS goal of “Take action on climate change and its impacts” since many ecosystems play a key role in mitigating climate change impacts. Coastal ecosystems contribute to absorbing excess flood water or buffering against coastal erosion or extreme weather events. In addition, forests, peatlands and other habitats are major stores of carbon. Protecting and supporting conservation of ecosystems may also help limit atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. The Order also contributes to SDG 13 “Climate Action”.

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