Species at risk and protected areas: beware

Canada’s interim commissioner of the environment and sustainable development tabled his annual report in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

The report is written in government-speak. That means it's full of tempered language and measured words. And yet, the report is still utterly devastating for the Conservative government.

In the words of interim commissioner Neil Maxwell, there are "striking" results that show a pattern of "unfulfilled commitments and responsibilities."

Here's more, in his own words:

* The government has not met the legislative requirements under the Species at Risk Act. "At the current rate, it will take Environment Canada approximately 10 years to complete its backlog of recovery strategies required under the Act.

* Environment Canada has assessed ecological integrity to be less than adequate in over one half of its wildlife protected areas, which together cover an area about the size of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

* Less than half of the ecosystems assessed by Parks Canada in 2011 were in good condition (with declining trends in the condition of many).

* Environment Canada has completed less than half of the Bird Conservation Region Strategies it committed to finishing by 2010.

* Environment Canada estimates that monitoring for 30 percent of the bird species in Canada is insufficient to determine whether they are at risk.

* More than 70 percent of national wildlife areas and about 55 percent of migratory bird sanctuaries are considered to have less than adequate ecological integrity. 

* Most of Environment Canada’s 19 draft targets to meet the goals of the International Convention on Biological Diversity are not sufficiently specific and key actions for achieving the targets have not been developed. Without details on key actions that need to be taken, it is not clear how Canada will meet its biodiversity targets by 2020. 

* Environment Canada is still operating with outdated management plans for most of its 54 national wildlife areas. On average, management plans date from 1992."

Photo: a.poulos. Used under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 licence.

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