Legislated timelines and responsibilities not being met, less than half of listed species under provincial responsibility have required recovery plans
Halifax, June 10th, 2016
The Auditor General released a damning report on the government’s track record for living up to legislated responsibilities for protection and recovery planning for species at risk in Nova Scotia.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is responsible for implementing the provisions of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which provides legal protection for the growing list of species listed as at risk in Nova Scotia. Once a species is listed as endangered or threatened, recovery teams made up of Department staff and external experts are supposed to be set up and recovery plans developed.
The auditor concluded that DNR is not fulfilling their legislated obligations for the conservation and recovery of species at risk and that species at risk planning and recovery need to be a greater priority for DNR.
The auditor found that;
· Eight of 14 recovery plans for species at risk were not done; some plans were more than seven years late
· Four recovery plans due for review are one to four years late
· DNR coordination and communication with species recovery teams needs improvement
· Department’s special management practices do not cover all listed species
· Plans to act on biodiversity goals are not detailed enough to clearly show what should be done, when, and expected results
· DNR works well with external parties to monitor species at risk but does not monitor some species as planned, while others are monitored more than planned
The report recommends that DNR fulfill its legislated requirements under the ESA by completing management and recovery plans for listed species, improve communications with recovery teams, develop better monitoring programs, implement appropriate practices for protection of habitat for at risk species and establish detailed actions plans for implementing actions related to biodiversity conservation outlined in the Natural Resources Strategy.
Matt Miller, Forestry Coordinator for the Ecology Action Centre, says the auditor general’s report is more evidence that DNR is still giving greater priority to delivering wood supply from public lands to the forest industry than protecting wildlife habitat and biodiversity.
Miller points to the conflicting mandates within the Renewable Resources Branch of DNR as the root cause for their failure to live up to their legislated responsibilities for protection and recovery of species-at-risk.
“DNR has a fundamental conflict of interest whereby they provide large volumes of wood for the forest industry while also being responsible for managing wildlife, including protection and recovery of threatened and endangered species” says Miller. “This report is a glaring indictment of the conflict of interest that exists within DNR. When the protection of habitat for species at risk conflicts with wood supply objectives, wildlife always loses.”
The Ecology Action Centre would like to see the government investigate options for restructuring DNR to address the inherent conflict of interest within the Renewable Resources Branch, and have responsibility for wildlife management and species-at-risk recovery transferred to Nova Scotia Environment.