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NDP bill seeks to protect, enhance at-risk species

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Posted June 9, 2011 by Damien Gillis in Politics
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From the Vancouver Sun – June 2, 2011

by Larry Pynn

NDP environment critic Rob Fleming introduced a private member’s bill
Wednesday in Victoria that seeks to protect and recover threatened and
endangered wildlife in the province.

The Species at Risk
Protection Act would identify species at risk, protect them and their
habitats, promote their recovery and promote stewardship activities that
assist with protection.

Decisions on species at risk would be
made on the basis of the best available scientific information,
including information obtained from community and aboriginal knowledge.

Lack
of “full scientific certainty” would not be used to stall action in the
threat of “significant reduction or loss of biological diversity,” the
bill states.

The bill also would establish a special independent
committee of at least three experts to assess species at risk. Fleming,
MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake, called on Premier Christy Clark to do what
her predecessor, Gordon Campbell, would not and support specific
legislation to save endangered species, especially given the growing
threat of climate change to critical ecosystems.

“I really hope she takes the opportunity to prove she’s different,” he said.

“She
now heads a government that for 10 years has done nothing to protect
species at risk, even with all the knowledge at its fingertips.”

During
the recent Liberal leadership campaign, The Vancouver Sun asked Clark
for her position on key environmental issues, including species at risk,
but she declined to respond. Environment Minister Terry Lake was not
available Wednesday to comment on the bill.

Faisal Moola, science
director for the David Suzuki Foundation, applauded the bill, saying
that in the absence of such legislation in B.C., as well as in Alberta,
flora and fauna continue to decline.

“According to the B.C.
government’s Conservation Data Centre, 1,900 plants and animals are now
declining or at risk of disappearing from the province,” Moola said.

B.C.
continues to rely on outdated wildlife and resource management laws,
such as the Wildlife Act and Forest and Range Practices Act, he added.

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About the Author

Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.

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