Endangered Species Act Raises The Bar For Species Protection In North America
On June 30, 2008, the most progressive legislation of its kind for species at risk protection will take effect. The new act has been hailed as the "gold standard" in species protection in North America.
The Ontario government will help businesses and individuals make the transition from the old act to the new by:
- ensuring business activities related to protection of human health and safety, protection of property and law enforcement can continue
- providing certainty regarding continuation of current legal activities that do not have a harmful effect on species at risk
- allowing several major types of industrial and development activities to continue with specific conditions aimed at protecting species at risk.
Two provincial committees established under Ontario's new Endangered Species Act will provide expertise and advice related to protection and recovery of species at risk and implementation of the new legislation.
- COMMITTEE ON THE STATUS OF SPECIES AT RISK IN ONTARIO
is the provincial agency responsible for assessing and classifying the status of species that may be at risk, based on the best available scientific information available, including information obtained from community knowledge and aboriginal traditional knowledge. The committee is an independent body of 11 expert members, from both the public and private sectors.
- SPECIES AT RISK PROGRAM ADVISORY COMMITTEE
is an independent body of up to 19 members who have relevant experience in resource use, land use or environmental sectors, and good knowledge related to the protection and recovery of species at risk. All members must be from outside the Ontario public sector. The committee will advise the Minister of Natural Resources and make recommendations on implementation of the new act.
ONTARIO'S SPECIES AT RISK
Ontario is home to more than 30,000 species of which more than 180 are considered to be at risk. Species may become at risk due to small or declining numbers and limited distributions in combination with other factors such as habitat loss, pollution, competition from invasive species and over-harvesting.
The Species at Risk in Ontario List is the official list of species that have been classified by the ministry in one of the following categories:
- Extinct - no longer lives anywhere in the world
- Extirpated - lives somewhere in the world, lived at one time in Ontario, but no longer lives in the wild in Ontario
- Endangered - lives in the wild in Ontario, but is facing imminent extinction or extirpation
- Threatened - lives in the wild in Ontario, is not endangered, but is likely to become endangered if steps are not taken to address factors that appear to be leading to its extinction or extirpation
- Special Concern - lives in the wild in Ontario, is not endangered or threatened, but may become threatened or endangered because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats.