Toronto , Ontario – Ontario’s leading environmental groups welcome the recommendations, released today, by the government-appointed Advisory Panel reviewing Ontario’s Endangered Species Act. The report recommends new legislation based on sound science that will protect all of the province’s endangered species and their habitats. The environmental groups – CPAWS-Wildlands League, Environmental Defence, Ontario Nature, Sierra Legal and the David Suzuki Foundation – are partners in the Save Ontario’s Species (S.O.S.) campaign (www.saveontariospecies.ca).
“If the government passes an Act consistent with the Advisory Panel’s report, then Ontario will have the best endangered species law in the country,” says Aaron Freeman, Policy Director for Environmental Defence. “Based on the Minister’s recent comments in the Legislature, we are confident that the government will listen to these recommendations.”
Minister of Natural Resources, David Ramsay, noted in the Legislature on October 11, 2006 that the government is “looking at ways to put in effective measures to protect species at risk, including a science-based process to list species and to develop effective tools to help them recover.” He also remarked that the Advisory Panel is providing good advice on how to strengthen the Act.
“The Panel report calls for legislation that will protect all of Ontario’s endangered species, based on a scientific assessment,” says Wendy Francis, Director of Conservation and Science for Ontario Nature. “This would be a huge improvement over the current situation, which protects less than a quarter of the province’s identified species at risk.”
The release of the Panel report is an important step toward fulfilling Premier Dalton McGuinty’s 2003 pre-election commitment to “update and strengthen Ontario’s Endangered Species Act.” A formal bill is expected to be tabled in the Ontario Legislature this fall.
“The Advisory Panel has recognized that enforcement cannot be the only tool for implementing endangered species legislation,” says Robert Wright, Counsel for Sierra Legal. “The report also highlights the importance of encouraging stewardship and providing landowners with the tools and incentives they need to play their part in protecting endangered species.”
“Significantly, the report addresses not only the issue of species survival, but also that of species recovery,” says Janet Sumner, Executive Director of CPAWS-Wildlands League. “The new Act must ensure that woodland caribou, peregrine falcons and other species in trouble recover to healthy population levels.”
The government also released today a summary of the hundreds of public comments received during a 60-day public consultation period regarding new endangered species legislation. “We are pleased to see that both public opinion and the expert panel are consistent in their support for a strong, science-based approach to effective protection of endangered species and their habitat,” says Rachel Plotkin, an Ontario-based Policy Analyst for the David Suzuki Foundation.
The Panel report makes recommendations in ten key areas, including scientific listing, landowner stewardship, financing, habitat protection and recovery and Aboriginal matters. For a full copy of the report visit: http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/mnr/speciesatrisk/ESA_Advisory_Panel_Report.pdf
About Save Ontario’s Species (www.saveontariospecies.ca): S.O.S. is a collaboration among CPAWS-Wildlands League, Environmental Defence, Ontario Nature, Sierra Legal and the David Suzuki Foundation. The groups are working together to ensure that Ontario’s new Endangered Species Act creates the necessary legal basis for protecting and restoring all of the province’s species at risk. The S.O.S. Campaign is also supported by ForestEthics and Western Canada Wilderness Committee. Additional information about each partner organization is available online at www.saveontariospecies.ca.
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For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232; (647) 280-9521 (cell)
Caroline Schultz, Ontario Nature, (416) 444-8419 ext. 237
Janet Sumner, CPAWS-Wildlands League, (416) 971-9453, ext.39
Robert Wright, Sierra Legal, (416) 368-7533 ext. 31
Rachel Plotkin, David Suzuki Foundation, (613) 594-9026