The Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk

Backgrounder

A History of Cooperation

There is a long history of cooperation on species at risk among federal, provincial and territorial governments. Through the designation of protected areas, implementation of international wildlife agreements and a commitment to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, the two levels of government have worked together on many nature issues.

In the spring of 1995, officials from Environment Canada, the provinces and territories held public workshops in many areas of the country to determine what should be included in a national approach to protecting species at risk. This led to the development of the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk. In October 1996, wildlife ministers agreed in principle to the Accord and committed to a national approach to protect species at risk.

In 1998, farmers, ranchers, environmental organizations, conservation groups, communities and individuals took part in two national workshops sponsored by wildlife directors to discuss how to implement the Accord.

Commitments Under the Accord

The Accord outlines commitments to designate species at risk, protect their habitats and develop recovery plans. By endorsing its terms, governments acknowledge that no single jurisdiction can effectively protect species at risk. Partnerships are crucial. Governments have agreed to play a leadership role by developing complementary legislation, regulations, policies and programs to identify and protect threatened and endangered species and their critical habitats.

Under the Accord, federal, provincial and territorial governments agreed to coordinate activities by creating the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council. The Council is made up of federal ministers of Environment, Fisheries and Oceans, and Heritage and the provincial and territorial ministers with responsibilities for wildlife species.

The Council's mandate is to provide national leadership for the protection of species at risk. It has specific responsibilities for identifying and recovering species at risk and co-ordinating action among all parties. It also serves as a forum for resolving any disputes that may arise out of implementation of the Accord.

The Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council: Progress to Date

At its inaugural meeting in September 1999, the Council agreed that the Committee on the Status of Endangered Species in Canada (COSEWIC) will continue to provide independent scientific assessments of species at risk. Federal, provincial and territorial wildlife ministers also reconfirmed their conviction that the protection of species at risk in Canada is a shared responsibility and that progress on wildlife issues can only be achieved by working cooperatively.

The next meeting of the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council will be held in Yellowknife from September 25 to 28, 2006.