Joint Meeting of Ministers, Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council and Wildlife Ministers’ Council of Canada

NEWS RELEASE – Canada’s Wildlife and Resource Ministers Work Together to Protect Biodiversity

TORONTO, September 19, 2001 -- Federal, provincial and territorial Wildlife, Forests, and Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers met jointly today to discuss Canada's strategy to protect biodiversity in all parts of the country.

At a joint meeting of the Forests, Endangered Species, Wildlife and Fisheries Councils, Ministers reviewed progress made under the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy in the five years since it was endorsed by all governments. "The development of the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy is an example of federal-provincial-territorial cooperation at its best," said federal Environment Minister David Anderson, who co-chaired the meeting with Ontario Natural Resources Minister John Snobelen. "We now face the challenge of moving forward in a manner that is logical, practical and within our financial capabilities. We recognize the importance of our cooperation and concerted efforts in preparing for the Earth Summit 2002 and ultimately in protecting our country's rich biodiversity."

Ministers agreed to collaborate on four implementation priorities for biodiversity issues of Canada-wide concern. The priorities are: to develop a biodiversity science agenda; enhance capacity to report on status and trends; deal with invasive alien species; and engage Canadians by promoting stewardship.

"I look forward to continued co-operation with my federal, provincial and territorial colleagues in efforts to protect biodiversity across Canada. I believe our agreement to address threats to biodiversity, such as invasive alien species, is an important step forward," said Minister Snobelen.

Minister Anderson updated his colleagues on Canada's preparations for the Earth Summit 2002 and Canada's National Report, which will review Canada's progress on meeting commitments made at the1992 United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. The international community will review the Report at a preparatory meeting for the Summit in January 2002. Ministers reviewed mechanisms for input into the report, and next steps for provincial, territorial, Aboriginal and stakeholder involvement in the process.

At the meeting of the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC), Ministers reviewed the status of protection of species at risk across the country, and Minister Anderson updated his colleagues on the status of Bill C-5, the federal Species at Risk Act, which is currently before Parliament. "Canadians asked for leadership on the protection of species at risk, and I am looking forward to getting legislation in place. I intend to continue working with my provincial and territorial colleagues to improve how we work together to protect species at risk," said Minister Anderson.

The CESCC received and released the 11th annual Recovery of Nationally Endangered Wildlife (RENEW) report, which summarizes recovery action and planning under way for endangered and threatened species in Canada in 2000-2001. The report highlights the dedication and commitment of recovery teams, which include government and non-government organizations, communities and dedicated volunteers across the country, to recover species at risk. Over 200 organizations made financial contributions to support recovery actions, and more than $26 million was invested on recovery measures in 2000-2001, almost double the expenditures in 1999-2000.

"The protection of species at risk is a shared responsibility and none of the progress that has been achieved on the ground to date would have been possible without Aboriginal Peoples, landowners, farmers, fishermen, conservation groups, and others working with governments to protect species at risk and the habitats on which they depend," said Minister Anderson.

The CESCC also received the annual report of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The COSEWIC list now includes 380 wild species in various risk categories. Of these, 82 are listed as threatened and 115 as endangered.

Ministers approved a process for developing and approving response statements for species that are listed as endangered or threatened (E&T) by COSEWIC. Response statements will summarize the approach and actions that each government proposes to take to protect and recover listed species. The CESCC agreed that response statements for the 15 new E & T listings made by COSEWIC at its May 2001 meeting would be completed by the jurisdictions in which the species occur.

At the CESCC meeting Ministers reviewed progress made by Ontario, British Columbia, Yukon and the Government of Canada on a pilot project to develop bilateral agreements under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk. Ministers from these jurisdictions directed their officials to continue to work towards the completion of a model bilateral agreement. Bilateral agreements will clarify how these governments will work together to protect species at risk and avoid duplication and overlap.

Ontario provided the Wildlife Ministers' Council of Canada (WMCC) with a progress report on the development of the Canada-Wide Stewardship Action Plan. "Stewardship programs encourage and assist landowners and land managers to adopt practices to protect habitat for wildlife. Effective stewardship is key to the protection of species at risk," said Minister Snobelen.

Nova Scotia will co-chair the 2001-2002 WMCC meeting, which will be held in Halifax.

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For more information, please contact:

Kelly Morgan
Director of Communications
Office of Canada's Minister of the Environment
(819) 997-1441

Brett Kelly
Minister's Office
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
(416) 314-1100