Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Message to MLA candidates: Don't let BC species at risk slip through the cracks

by Kai M. A. Chan

Inspired by an SFU letter to MLA candidates, Sally Otto and I sent the following email to a long list of candidates, picking up where we left off with a Vancouver Sun op-ed from 2010 (no progress since then!).

Dear MLA candidate,

A female sea otter (a federally listed species at risk) with her
her pup, seen in Kyuquot Sound, northern Vancouver Island.
We are writing today, Earth Day 2013, to urge you to protect species at risk in British Columbia, should you be elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. Most citizens of BC are unaware that our province lacks legal protection for the vast majority of species at risk on provincial land.  While Canada's Species At Risk Act (SARA) covers species on federal lands, most territory in BC is in either provincial or private hands and not covered by SARA.  We have called upon the BC government to act to legislate protection for those species most at risk of extinction and extirpation (see here) and urge you to make this a priority issue in your term, should you be elected.

We note that BC has recently released a draft five-year plan for species at risk in the province (http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/atrisk/5_yr_plan/).  This draft is somewhat vague about the measures to be undertaken, but we are encouraged to see that one of the proposals is to:

"Analyze opportunities for and make recommendations regarding changes to existing or new policy and legislation to address gaps in legal protection for species at risk, ensuring input from stakeholders and the public is considered prior to making any changes (starting in 2013)."

Addressing the huge legislative gaps with respect to species protection is critical.  Without such legal protection, most endangered species in BC are increasingly at risk.  The federal species at risk act has extremely limited application and was intended as a complement to provincial legislative protection.  We have already seen sage grouse, white-tailed jackrabbit, and the pygmy short-horned lizard extirpated from our province, with spotted owls soon to follow (the latest data records only two pairs of breeding birds remaining in BC).  BC has incredible natural landscapes and biological heritage that are worth protecting.  They have earned this province its “super natural” reputation, a reputation that can be protected if we act together in a manner that is scientifically sound as well as socially and economically responsible.

We would be more than happy to help serve as a resource if you wish to discuss these issues further.

Sally and Kai

Dr. Sarah (Sally) Otto, FRSC
Director, Biodiversity Research Centre
Department of Zoology
University of British Columbia
6270 University Blvd.
Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Z4

Dr. Kai M. A. Chan
Assoc Prof & Tier 2 Canada Research Chair (Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services)
Graduate Advisor, RMES
Institute for Resources, Environment & Sustainability
2202 Main Mall, 4th floor
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC  V6T 1Z4

1 comment:

  1. From Brett Favaro, a PhD candidate who led the SFU letter, 2013.4.24:

    I thought you might be interested in this - the NDP just published their full platform today for the first time (attached).

    On page 41 under the section "3. Guarantee high standards and best practices" they say:

    "Introduce new legislation to ban the use of cosmetic pesticides, and to protect endangered species and habitats."

    I'm surprised they couched it within the pesticide thing....