Response to the endangered species legislation report card
Kevin Aylward, minister responsible for wildlife, responded today to the Canadian Endangered Species Coalition evaluation of Newfoundland and Labrador's progress on endangered legislation.
"I am concerned that this report card paints an incomplete picture of the work being undertaken in this province on endangered species. While the legislation is an important part of an overall program, it does not mean that our efforts stand still while we continue to work on securing both national and provincial endangered species legislation," said Mr. Aylward.
The department continues to take action to protect endangered species within the province. One particular initiative was to create and fill a position of endangered species biologist, which is responsible for all activities related to endangered species management and recovery. The department has taken actions to protect habitat by creating a wildlife reserve to protect the piping plover, and continues to work with other departments and forest harvesting companies to protect American (pine) marten habitat. Departmental staff actively participate on several endangered species recovery teams for species such as, the pine marten, piping plover, peregrine falcon, Harlequin duck, Eskimo curlew, and the wolverine. Moreover, the department established, for the first time, a recovery team for a plant species, the brya species in the Burnt Islands Ecological Reserve and is also providing funding assistance for the development of a status report for a rare lichen. In this fiscal year, the department committed more that $120,000 (excluding salaries) to endangered species programs. This money has, in turn, generated another $200,000 in outside funding for endangered species projects. Overall, Newfoundland is among the top provinces contributing to endangered species funding.
"Legislation will be an important tool to protect endangered species, but the real test will be what is done on the ground. How we get all the diverse interests working together for the cause of endangered species is critical, and I think our actions to date speak for themselves," said Mr. Aylward. "I feel confident in saying that our endangered species management program is as progressive as most other provinces, including those with endangered species legislation."
In the meantime, endangered species legislation for the province is under preparation. The Inland Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council debated this issue and recommended to the minister that comprehensive legislation be prepared. The minister accepted this recommendation, and at this time, the department has produced the necessary documentation to proceed with the next stage of implementing endangered species legislation. Already there has been a review of the documentation within government agencies, which has received widespread support. Once the necessary government approvals are in place, a public document will be released to the public for review and input. This will include a public consultation process. After this process, staff can proceed with the final drafting of legislation. The development of legislation has been identified as a priority, and it is government's intention to ensure that this legislation reflects the commitments made under the National Accord.
Contact: Anna Buffinga, Director of Communications, (709) 729-3750.