Pan-Canadian approach to transforming Species at Risk conservation in Canada

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Cat. No.: CW66-582/2018E-PDF
ISBN: 978-0-660-27223-8

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Quebec has not signed the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk and has its own Act on Threatened and Vulnerable Species. It actively collaborates with the federal government on the conservation of endangered species of common interest through the Canada-Quebec Agreement on Species at Risk. For example, Quebec does not participate in the development of Canada-wide policies and mechanisms for the conservation of species at risk, and as such, will not implement the proposed pan-Canadian approach. Quebec intends to work in complementarity with the federal government in setting priorities for the recovery of species in precarious situations, within already existing mechanisms.

Introduction

Federal, provincial and territorial governments have been working to conserve Canada’s biodiversity for decades.

Recognizing that wild species populations in Canada continue to decline, we are committed to redoubling our efforts. We reaffirm our commitment to the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk and the complementary National Framework. Building on these foundational pieces, we will focus our collaborative work on shared priorities that enable us to meet our collective species at risk requirements to the greatest extent possible through multi-species and ecosystem-based approaches and to strengthen implementation of our common objectives to maximize multi-species and biodiversity conservation benefits.

These priorities will be guided by agreed principles and common criteria to support a transformative approach to operationalizing species at risk conservation, as detailed below.

Pan-Canadian approach to transforming Species at Risk conservation in Canada

New principles to guide collaborative implementation work

Priority places Priority species Priority threats

Criteria

  1. Biodiversity values
  2. Conservation status
  3. Boundary optimization
  4. Achievability of conservation outcomes
  5. Leadership and partnership opportunities

Criteria

  1. Ecological value
  2. Conservation status
  3. Social and cultural value
  4. Achievability of conservation outcomes
  5. Leadership and partnership opportunities

Criteria

  1. Impact of the threat
  2. Achievability of conservation outcomes
  3. Leadership and partnership opportunities
  • Identification of priorities
  • Cooperative action planning
  • Investments and implementation
  • Monitoring and reporting
  • Identification of priorities
  • Cooperative action planning
  • Investments and implementation
  • Monitoring
  • Identification of priorities
  • Cooperative action planning
  • Investments and implementation
  • Monitoring

Results and benefits

Principles to guide collaborative implementation of conservation action

While there is shared agreement on the need to transform approaches to species at risk and biodiversity conservation, and more specifically to shift to more multi-species and ecosystem- based approaches, more targeted and collaborative efforts, and greater emphasis on implementation, progress is at a preliminary stage. There is a strong desire and commitment to accelerate progress. Federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) governments have agreed to the following set of principles to guide collaborative work and to operationalize the transformation to multi-species and ecosystem-based approaches, building on existing collaboration through the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, and federal-provincial/territorial bilateral agreements on species at risk conservation:

Multi-species and ecosystem-based approaches

Wherever possible, jurisdictions will develop and implement multi-species, ecosystem- based and/or threat-based initiatives that collectively maximize the ability to protect and recover species at risk, recognizing in some circumstances single-species approaches may be preferred or necessary to meet our collective species at risk protection and recovery obligations.

Shared priorities

When applicable, FPT governments will work together to focus conservation efforts on shared priority places, species and threats. A set of shared priorities, identified and selected bilaterally or multi-laterally as appropriate, will be a focus of collaborative implementation over the next 5-10 years, based on:

Shared leadership

Planning and implementation approaches will recognize and emphasize shared FPT jurisdiction, and who is best positioned to act, including:

Indigenous engagement

Planning and implementation approaches will aim to renew relationships and strengthen collaboration between our governments and Indigenous Peoples, by:

Strengthened partnerships

Planning and implementation approaches will recognize the benefits of strengthening partnerships, and in particular engagement of Indigenous Peoples, the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others in planning and taking action.

Strengthened evidence-base for decision making

Evidence to support species at risk recovery action planning and implementation will be improved through:

Aligned investments

Investments will be aligned with shared priorities, recognizing:

Improved monitoring and reporting

Monitoring and reporting of actions, expenditures and outcomes will be improved to enable:

Criteria and considerations for identifying shared priorities

A. Criteria and considerations for identifying priority places in collaboration with partners

A priority place may be described as a defined geographic area of high biodiversity value with a recognizable ecological theme and social relevance that may be intuitively identified as a distinct “place” by the people that live there and manage its infrastructure and renewable and non-renewable natural resources. Proposed criteria and considerations for identifying priority places in collaboration with partners could include the following five elements.

Biodiversity values

Identification of significant species at risk and other biodiversity values on a regional or national scale:

Conservation status

A recognition that biodiversity values are declining and being impacted by identifiable human-caused threats:

Boundary optimization

An appropriate spatial size to focus conservation efforts:

Achievability of conservation outcomes

A pragmatic opportunity to begin to achieve significant and measurable conservation outcomes within a reasonable timeframe (5–10 years), recognizing improvements in conservation status usually takes a long time (10-50 years) and conservation efforts must be ongoing to sustain gains:

Leadership and partnership opportunities

A multi-jurisdictional context that includes mandates, responsibilities, and roles for the Government of Canada, provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples, municipalities, and others:

B. Criteria and considerations for identifying priority species in collaboration with partners

Collaborative approaches focused on single-species may be preferred or necessary to deliver conservation actions in complex threat scenarios and for ecologically important, widely distributed and transboundary species and their ecosystems. Focusing efforts on delivering conservation outcomes for a manageable number of priority species, and that address multiple barriers to recovery through-out their range, can have significant co-benefits to multiple species at risk, other wildlife, and related biodiversity values. Collaborative, multi-jurisdictional protection and recovery action is already underway for Boreal caribou and Southern Mountain Caribou. Proposed criteria and considerations for identifying a national set of priority species in collaboration with partners and that will resonate with Canadians, could include the following elements.

Ecological value/role

Identification of wide ranging species with a significant keystone, umbrella or previously ecologically important role, on a regional or national scale:

Conservation status

A recognition that the species status is declining and being impacted by identifiable threats:

Social and cultural value

Species is socially and culturally valued, and may be considered to have iconic status:

Achievability of conservation outcomes

A pragmatic opportunity to begin to achieve significant and measurable conservation outcomes within a reasonable timeframe (5–10 years), recognizing improvements in conservation status usually takes a long time (10-50 years) and conservation efforts must be ongoing to sustain gains:

Leadership and partnership opportunities

A multi-jurisdictional context that includes mandates, responsibilities, and roles for the Government of Canada, provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples and other partners:

C. Criteria and considerations for identifying priority threats/sectors in collaboration with partners

Effective conservation of species at risk requires identifying and alleviating threats to their existence. Determining high impact sector activities or threats at the national or regional scale, where there is an opportunity to have a positive impact through sector-based or threat-based mitigation initiatives, is one of the key strategies to improving conservation outcomes across Canada. Proposed criteria and considerations for identifying the relative importance and priority of sector initiatives and threats, could include the following elements.

Impact of the threat

Identification of sector-based activities and/or threats that are prevalent and have impacts at regional or national scales. Different threats and sector- specific activities have varying levels of impact, depending on the species, habitats or ecosystem/landscapes of concern. Assessing threat impact is multi-factorial, and includes consideration of:

Achievability of conservation outcomes

A pragmatic opportunity to achieve significant and measurable conservation outcomes within a reasonable timeframe (5–10 years):

Leadership and partnership opportunities

A multi-jurisdictional context that includes mandates, responsibilities, and roles for the Government of Canada, provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples and other partners:

Results and benefits

Better conservation outcomes for more species at risk

Aligned priorities and investments create synergies for multiple species and habitats with a focus on addressing root causes of declines.

Improved return on investment

Maximize number of species for which recovery and protection actions are being implemented through investing in multi-species priorities with broad national coverage.

Increased co-benefits for biodiversity and ecosystems

Multi-species and ecosystem approaches for species at risk create co-benefits for:

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