Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Landmark Court Decision in Canadian Conservation

A seemingly inconsequential minnow species, present in only a few streams in the Lower Mainland of BC have sparked a major change in the way environmental policy is enforced in Canada. When the Nooksack Dace was listed under the Federal Species at Risk Act, DFO was charged with formulating a recovery plan. Among the normal responsibilities for drafting a recovery plan is the identification of critical habitats, however for political reasons the maps and the list of activities which could threaten those habitats were omitted from the final plan. A consortium of four environmental groups led by Ecojustice sued the federal government over the plan and won.

In the United States the practice of suing the government over their failure to address ESA mandate is fairly widespread and has been used frequently on the Columbia River and in other threatened systems. However in Canada the species at risk act was only adopted in 2004 meaning that this lawsuit sets a powerful precedent for future habtiat protection, designation and holding the goverment to their legally mandated obligations. See an informative article in the Vancouver Sun.

No comments: