For Immediate Release
Jan 13, 2010

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Environmental groups set high bar for BC’s new Species at Risk Task Force


Vancouver, BC – Environmental groups were greatly encouraged to see the provincial government move forward with their campaign promise of increased protection for species at risk in Monday’s throne speech. The throne speech heralded the creation of a Species at Risk Task Force charged with suggesting a “new defining vision…that British Columbian’s can work together to achieve…”

“We want to see the BC Species at Risk Task Force follow the Ontario model: it must assess the effectiveness of existing laws at protecting species at risk, and make explicit recommendations about how to improve this legal protection” said Susan Howatt, Director of Campaigns at Sierra Club BC. “BC’s Task Force must be comprised of experts chosen for their knowledge of species recovery and management, legal protection of species and conservation science.”

David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, Sierra Club BC, and the Wilderness Committee have been working collaboratively to get a Species and Ecosystem Protection Law passed in British Columbia to
protect at-risk species. An effective law, such as one already in place in Ontario, would be science-based and protect habitat needed by species for survival and recovery.

“Ontario recently delivered North America’s strongest endangered species law by using a highly successful expert advisory panel on species at risk. If BC is to lead the world on this important file, we need to begin with the Ontario approach that provided such an effective resource to government” said Devon Page, Executive Director of Ecojustice.

The announcement of the Species at Risk Task Force comes at a crucial moment for BC’s globally renowned but increasingly embattled biodiversity. BC is Canada’s richest province
biologically, but already at least 43% of BC’s over 3800 species are at risk of disappearing and strong legal protections are urgently needed.

“Members of our coalition played a seminal role in bringing forth the ground-breaking Endangered Species Act in Ontario”, said Dr. Faisal Moola, Director of the Terrestrial Conservation and Science Program at David Suzuki Foundation. “We look forward to working closely with the new Species at Risk Task Force to achieve similar success here in British Columbia.”

“Right now BC and Alberta are the only provinces with no
endangered species law. I am looking forward to the day when BC will have the best endangered species legislation in Canada,” said Gwen Barlee, Policy Director with the Wilderness Committee.

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