VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada, March 4, 2013 –/WORLD-WIRE/– A report tabled BY British Columbia’s Auditor General John Doyle on the provincial government’s attempts to conserve biodiversity, including species at risk, was sharply critical of the government’s efforts – especially in relation to habitat protection.
In the report, An Audit of Biodiversity in BC: Assessing the Effectiveness of Key Tools, Doyle found that the BC government was ineffective in conserving biodiversity, had gaps in legislation, as well as “poorly implemented policies and tools” and inadequate monitoring and reporting. Doyle also noted that the lack of implementation of habitat tools was “troubling,” and that “significant gaps” existed in terms of the government understanding of biodiversity in BC.
Biodiversity refers to the variety of life on earth, including ecosystems, genes and their associated biological processes.
“The sad fact is the BC government is doing a very poor job of protecting our natural environment, and the Auditor General report confirmed that fact. We are just one of two provinces in Canada with no endangered species legislation and the hodgepodge of weak regulations and insufficient enforcement is simply not doing the job,” said Gwen Barlee, policy director with the Wilderness Committee.
British Columbia has the most biodiversity in Canada and the most species at risk – over 1,500. BC is home to 76 per cent of Canada’s bird species, 70 per cent of its freshwater fish species, 66 per cent of its butterfly species and 56 per cent of its fern species. American badgers, phantom orchids, spotted owls and killer whales are just a handful of the hundreds of the at-risk species in the province.
“The BC government talks a good line about protecting endangered species in BC, but they don’t back up their promises with action,” said Barlee. “Once you get past the spin and rhetoric you realize that BC has over 1,500 species at risk and no real plan to protect them now or in the future. What endangered species in BC need is a stand-alone law that will recover species and protect their habitat.”
Almost 90 per cent of BC’s species receive no protection under provincial laws or the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). The biggest threat to 84 per cent of BC’s species at risk is the loss and fragmentation of the habitat they need to live and breed.
The Wilderness Committee is part of an alliance of conservation groups calling on the BC government to introduce stand-alone endangered species legislation in BC.
For more information contact:
Gwen Barlee Policy Director, Wilderness Committee
Tel: 604-202-0322 [office] 604-202-0322 [cell]
B-roll of endangered species available upon request.