Archive for ‘Biodiversity’

September 7, 2013

The War on Science

Canada now has a government dedicated to weakening science, but this is a world wide problem. This documentary reveals how science denial is weakening our ability to deal with the problems we are creating:

March 14, 2013

Press Release: Grizzly Bears on the Brink

Press Release from the David Suzuki Foundation:

Grizzly bears deserve immediate legal protection in Canada

Study finds many bear populations are on the brink of extinction


For Immediate Release                                                                                                                                             March 14, 2013

VANCOUVER – Grizzly bears could disappear from many parts of Canada unless action is taken to list them under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) and initiate immediate recovery efforts, including protecting their dwindling habitat in some regions.

That’s the conclusion of a David Suzuki Foundation study that analyzed provincial and federal government data on the status of grizzly populations across Western Canada. The report, Securing a National Treasure, revealed that 16 subgroups are on the brink of extinction in regions where they once flourished. This includes nine groups in south-central British Columbia and Alberta’s entire grizzly population, which remains vulnerable despite a recent hunting ban.

“Grizzly bears are at risk of disappearing completely from many parts of Western Canada, including all of southern B.C. and the South Coast Mountains, as well as a few subpopulations in west-central Alberta, unless immediate action is taken to list and protect them under the federal Species at Risk Act,” said Faisal Moola, a scientist with the David Suzuki Foundation. “We must protect this iconic symbol of Canadian wilderness, which plays such a critical role in the maintenance of a healthy ecosystem,” he added.

The Foundation’s report comes on the heels of an assessment by Canada’s expert science panel on species at risk, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), which found that although healthy populations of grizzlies remain in much of Canada’s remote northern wilderness, southern populations in Alberta and B.C. are in trouble as a result of shrinking habitat and excessive human-caused mortality. For this reason, scientists have formally declared the animal a species of “special concern” that should be added to the official List of Wildlife Species at Risk (Schedule 1) under the Species at Risk Act.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent received COSEWIC’s formal recommendation last fall and must now decide whether to legally list grizzly bears under the Species at Risk Act, reject listing, or refer the matter back to COSEWIC for further study.

“For the second time in 10 years, the federal government’s advisory panel on wildlife has strongly recommended legally listing and protecting grizzly bears,” Moola said. “Five different environment ministers, Liberal and Conservative, have failed to act on the scientists’ advice. We hope Canada’s current environment minister will listen to the experts and take action to save this iconic species.”

Canada’s grizzly bears are among the most vulnerable large mammals on the continent for a number of reasons, including low reproductive rates; increasing pressures from resource extraction, such as oil and gas development; climate change and death from sport hunting, control kills and poaching.

“First Nations have shared the land with bears for thousands of years,” said Douglas Neasloss, a renowned bear guide and leader with the Kitasoo/XaixaisBand Council in B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest. “We not only revere the animal in our culture but also depend on it as part of the sustainable tourism industry we are trying to create so that people from around the world can come to see bears in the wild,” he added. “We must implement legislative measures to protect and recover grizzly bears before it’s too late.”

The Species at Risk Act is the key legislative tool for protecting declining species, such as blue whales, caribou and rare plants like butternut trees in Canada. If grizzly bears are successfully added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk (Schedule 1) under the Species at Risk Act as a species of “special concern”, the government will have to initiate formal measures to protect and recover the species, including creation of a management plan and other conservation measures.


December 6, 2011

Will China Save the Hainan Gibbons?

Hainan is a tropical island in the South-China Sea, and its forests are being devastated by illegal logging. Will China enforce protection of the forests in Bawangling National Nature Reserve so that the Hainan gibbon can survive?


November 30, 2010

See Science See Further

The Royal Society has launched a new web page to celebrate the end of its 35oth anniversary. Science Sees Further shares the twelve themes of the Royal Society’s 2010 discussion meetings. Each article is written by an expert and has been reviewed by committee to ensure scientific accuracy.

From the introduction by Lord Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society:

This is the first century when one species, ours, risks irreversibly degrading the entire planet’s environment.  With rising temperatures, an ageing and ever-increasing population, growing pressure on resources and a genuine fear of the evolution of infectious diseases, issues relating to global health and sustainability are high on the scientific agenda. The risks and dangers need to be assessed and then confronted.

But now is not just a time of challenges and adversity: it is also a time for scientific opportunity.  The need to develop ‘clean’ energy, new vaccines and better resources means scientists and national science academies like the Royal Society have a critical role to play over the coming years.

Issues covered include:

The speakers at each discussion group can be listened to here.

November 25, 2010

Canada Fail: Fishing in Marine Protected Areas

From a Media Release by Living Oceans Society:

VANCOUVER– Fishing is allowed in all but one percent of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) on Canada’s Pacific coast, according to a study conducted by Living Oceans Society and published in Marine Policy this month. This is in spite of the fact tha tover half of the MPAs are officially rated as “strictly protected” and are intended to prohibit all fishing.

Kim Wright, Marine Planning and Protected Areas Campaign Manager for Living Oceans Society

“Marine Protected Areas should be safe havens where species can regenerate, but the great majority of our MPAs are really just paper parks that offer almost nothing in the way of ocean conservation or sustainable fisheries,” says Kim Wright, Living Oceans Society’s Marine Planning and Protected Areas Campaign Manager.

To build an effective network of MPAs, federal, provincial and municipal government agencies that designate MPAs need to ensure that the appropriate fishing closures are put in place by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). The Marine Policy article, Commercial Fisheries Closures in Marine Protected Areas on Canada’s Pacific Coast: The Exception, not the Rule, reveals all levels of government are failing to coordinate their efforts and provide real protection for the ocean ecosystem.

Dr. Isabelle Côté, a Marine Protected Area specialist and professor at Simon Fraser University says that this study emphasizes the need to improve our network of MPAs if we want to reap the benefits. “Marine reserves, in which no fishing is permitted, increase the abundance and diversity of marine life within their boundaries,” says Côté. “This study shows that the MPAs on Canada’s Pacific coast are less likely to show the same positive effects.”


Living Oceans Society is calling on the federal and provincial governments to address this issue coast wide, starting with the region known as the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA) which extends from Vancouver Island north to the Alaska Border. The federal government, First Nations governments and stakeholders are currently working together to develop a marine plan for this region. According to Living Oceans Society, this is the perfect opportunity for all parties to work together to upgrade and improve the existing network of MPAs.

This will also help Canada live up to its international commitment, through the Convention on Biological Diversity, to build a network of MPAs by 2012 that encompasses 10 percent of every habitat type globally.

“As the nation with the longest coastline in the world, it is shocking so few MPAs exist and that fishing is allowed in almost all of them, including those classified as strictly protected,” says Wright.


October 20, 2010

Alberta set to destroy native prairie

The Alberta Wilderness Association is reporting that secretive behind-closed-doors sale of public lands is about to by proceed:

In all of AWA’s years of defending Wild Alberta, we have rarely come across a case as blatant or as offensive as ‘Potatogate.’ In a shocking abuse of trust, the Alberta government is secretly preparing to sell off 25 sections (16,000 acres) of public land – land that belongs to you and me – to a private developer. The land, near Bow Island, is slated to be ploughed up to grow potatoes, despite the fact that it is known to be home for a number of threatened and endangered species.

Due to the secretive nature of the process, which has taken place entirely behind closed doors, the land sale is close to being finalized. Please consider writing to the Premier, before it is too late, asking him to stop this sale of our public land.


September 11, 2010

Alberta Government Destroying Prairie?

News from the Alberta Wilderness Association indicates the the Alberta Government is about to sell off 100 quarters (about 16000 acres)  of public land without public consultation. The land, which is west of Medicine Hat, contains native prairie habitat, the home of several species listed under the federal Species at Risk Act, including burrowing owl, ferruginous hawk, Sprague’s pipit, chestnut-collared longspur, McCowan’s longspur, short-eared owl, and long-billed curlew.

This prairie habitat is apparently slated for potato production for purpose of making potato chips.

For more information see the news page at the Alberta Wilderness Association.

See the AWA letter to government here.


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