Halifax, September 25, 2002 – Ten years after the Rio Earth Summit, federal, provincial and territorial Forest, Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers have renewed their commitment to work together to implement the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, ratified by Canada in 1992.
“The diversity of biological life in Canada provides enormous ecological, biological, economic, cultural and spiritual benefits to Canadians,” said Nova Scotia Natural Resources Minister Tim Olive, who co-chaired the joint meeting with the Honourable David Anderson, federal Minister of the Environment. “The recent World Summit on Sustainable Development highlighted the importance of conserving the biodiversity of the planet, and we stand by our commitment to do our part.”
Ministers reviewed progress on priorities for action under the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy (CBS), which was issued in 1996 as Canada’s response to the Biological Diversity Convention. As part of this review, Ministers approved a national blueprint for addressing the threat of invasive alien species under the CBS.
“Invasive alien species pose a significant threat to Canada’s biodiversity, economy and society. There is a growing urgency for action, and therefore we are developing a comprehensive plan to strengthen our efforts to address this threat,” said Minister Anderson. “The plan will seek to prevent new alien species from invading Canada, and propose measures to eradicate, contain and control those that are already established. It will also provide for a monitoring and reporting system to track the effectiveness of the measures taken.”
Ministers also approved Canada’s Stewardship Agenda, which will increase participation by Canadians in biodiversity conservation. “Canada’s Stewardship Agenda will help Canadians work together to protect habitat, contribute to the recovery of species at risk and conserve our natural heritage for generations to come,” said Minister Olive. “I am particularly proud of the multi-species approach adopted by Nova Scotia’s Atlantic Coastal Plains Plants Recovery project that has received support from the Habitat Stewardship Program. Stewardship projects are underway in every province and territory.”
Minister Anderson briefed his provincial and territorial colleagues on the recent World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, and stressed the importance of joint action. “Many of the environmental challenges we face in Canada straddle jurisdictional borders, and thus we all have responsibilities within our respective jurisdictions for many issues, including the protection of species at risk and the habitats on which they depend. It is imperative that we work together at all levels of government to address these issues, and that Canadians, including landowners, farmers, fishers, Aboriginal Peoples, and conservation groups continue to be involved.”
Minister Anderson tabled Canada’s Forest Biodiversity report on behalf of his colleague, Natural Resources Canada Minister Herb Dhaliwal. “This report shows that Canada’s forest community is meeting its commitment on biodiversity,” said Minister Olive, who also chaired yesterday’s meeting of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers.
Nova Scotia Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Ernest Fage, chair of the federal, provincial and territorial agriculture Ministers, outlined the linkages between the new national agriculture policy framework and the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy.
At the meeting of the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC), Ministers reviewed a number of initiatives in support of the objectives of the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk.
They released response statements for 32 species that were designated threatened, endangered, or extirpated by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in 2001. Response statements summarize the approach and actions that each government proposes to take to protect and recover listed species within their boundaries.
CESCC Ministers received and released the annual report for COSEWIC, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2002. The Council also released the 12th annual Recovery of Nationally Endangered Wildlife (RENEW) report, which summarizes recovery action and planning under way for threatened, endangered, or extirpated species in Canada.
Wildlife Ministers acknowledged the need to respond to the growing incidence of diseases that affect wildlife in Canada, and endorsed a strategy to enhance the capacity of the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre (CCWHC). The CCWHC is a centre of excellence in wildlife diseases that is managed and funded cooperatively by federal, provincial and territorial governments, Canada’s four veterinary colleges, and other partners.
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