British Columbia still has no species at risk legislation.
By John Neilson and Loys Maingon
A few of the species in BC that continue to be unprotected by a provincial Species at Risk Act—because there isn’t one
AMONG CANADIAN PROVINCES, BC has the greatest biodiversity and number of species at risk. British Columbians reasonably expect that the Province has powerful legislation to protect plant and animal species and their habitats. But in spite of the current government’s promises, BC still does not have a Species at Risk Act. It remains one of only a few provinces not to have one. As a poor alternative, it has a truncated list of species that receive some modicum of conservation attention identified in the Forest and Range Practices Act or the Wildlife Act. Even then, the Forest and Range Practices Act prohibits the Province from protecting wildlife and habitat if doing so “would unduly reduce the supply of timber from British Columbia’s forests.” In consequence of this weak framework, BC recognizes only a tiny fraction of its species at risk, and lacks enforceable legislation to protect and recover them.
As part of the long-promised forestry review, the government of BC should commit to:
1. A comprehensive and enforceable provincial Species at Risk Act.
2. Remove language in legislation that favours industrial activity to the detriment of populations of plants and animals.
3. Commit to open and effective science-based decision-making for forestry operations.
4. Recognize that short-term deferrals are no panacea for the extinction of animal and plant communities.
Let’s make more room for science and nature in Super, Natural BC.
John Neilson (BSc., MNRM, PhD) is Past Co-Chair (2016-2019), Marine Fishes, Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, and Past (2013-2016) Scientist Emeritus, Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Loys Maingon (MA, PhD, MSc, RPBio) is Research Director, Strathcona Wilderness Institute and BC Director, Canadian Society of Environmental Biologists.