|Threatened and Endangered Species
When Canada enacted the federal Species at Risk Act in June 2003 to address mounting threats to Canada’s endangered species, it was an important day for wildlife protection in North America.
However, key weaknesses in the Act, exacerbated by shallow federal implementation, have reduced the Act’s effectiveness in four ways.
4. Stewardship and Public Participation Opportunities Are Inadequate.
Stewardship has been left the greatest burden for saving species without a corresponding increase in funding.
Species at risk listing and recovery planning do not yet adequately incorporate community knowledge. COSEWIC is attempting to remedy this by accessing, validating and incorporating such knowledge in its status assessments. This is a strong indication of the value of information held in the naturalist community—from compiled records of recent sightings of a species to historical population and habitat trends. As such information is equally important in recovery planning as in listing, recovery teams should likewise access and incorporate knowledge from the naturalist community.
Unfortunately, SARA has not yet increased or eased the involvement of naturalists in species at risk recovery, education or monitoring. This is so despite federal descriptions of stewardship as the cornerstone of the Act. Indeed, stewardship is the federal answer to recovering species on non-federal lands.
With so much expected of voluntary stewardship, mechanisms must be put in place to better inform, mobilize and fund potential stewards like those in the naturalist community.
Through the Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP) for Species at Risk, established in 2000, the federal government allocates almost $10 million annually to conservation projects that protect habitat, mitigate threats, or help implement recovery strategies for species at risk. Valuable as this funding is, it will prove inadequate to implement the hundreds of