Species at Risk Act Policies - Policy Regarding the Identification of Anthropogenic Structures as Critical Habitat under the Species at Risk Act - 2016 [Proposed]
Species at Risk Act
Policies and Guidelines Series
Government of Canada. 2016. Policy Regarding the Identification of Anthropogenic Structures as Critical Habitat under the Species at Risk Act [Proposed]. Species at Risk Act: Policies and Guidelines Series. Government of Canada, Ottawa. 3 pp.
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Some SARA-listed species are dependent, to varying degrees, upon human-constructed or maintained structuresFootnote 1, the primary purpose of which is not to provide habitat for wildlife. Examples include barns, bridges, and chimneys.
The definition of “habitat” for non-aquatic species in subsection 2(1) of SARA is:
“...the area or type of site where an individual or wildlife species naturally occurs or depends on directly or indirectly in order to carry out its life processes or formerly occurred and has the potential to be reintroduced.”
The definition of “habitat” for aquatic species in section 2(1) of SARA is:
“...spawning grounds and nursery, rearing, food supply, migration and any other areas on which aquatic species depend directly or indirectly in order to carry out their life processes, or areas where aquatic species formerly occurred and have the potential to be reintroduced;”
The definition of “critical habitat” in subsection 2(1) of SARA is:
“...the habitat that is necessary for the survival or recovery of a listed wildlife species and that is identified as the species’ critical habitat in the recovery strategy or in an action plan for the species.”
Whereas an anthropogenic structure may not constitute an area or type of site where an individual or wildlife species naturally occurs, it may nonetheless be an area or type of site upon which the species depends directly or indirectly in order to carry out its life processes.
If a given anthropogenic structure is necessary for the survival or recovery (as defined by the population and distribution objectives) of a listed wildlife species, its identification as critical habitat would be consistent with the purposes of the Act, which are to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct, and to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity.
When determining if anthropogenic structures are required to meet the population and distribution objectives for that species, it is important to assess whether the structures contribute positively to the survival or recovery of the species, because some artificial structures may attract individuals of a species but result in reduced individual level fitness and represent population-level sinks. This may ultimately undermine the long-term success of recovery efforts.
- Footnote 1
In this policy, structures are things that are built by humans for purposes other than the provision of habitat (e.g., barns, chimneys, silos, bridges). In some cases, features such as compost piles could be included if required for the survival or recovery of the species.
- Footnote 2
Only in exceptional circumstances would recovery be considered feasible for a species permanently reliant upon anthropogenic structures.
- Date Modified: