The land is one organism. Its parts, like our own parts, compete with each other and co-operate with each other…. To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.
~ ALDO LEOPOLD, FORESTER, ECOLOGIST, AND AUTHOR OF A SAND COUNTY ALMANAC (1949); FROM ROUND RIVER: FROM THE JOURNALS OF ALDO LEOPOLD (1953)
BC is renowned for its natural biodiversity which allows social and economical development for the local communities. Around 50.000 species of animals and plants can be found in BC as it has the highest diversity of native wildlife and plant in Canada. It is important to protect and conserve the natural ecosystem which plays a major role in BC’s economy with services such as clean water, fertile soils, crop pollination, abundant renewable resources and carbon sequestration which allows the balance of the carbon that is released in the atmosphere . The ecosystem has to be kept healthy as it works as a whole; one missing link in the chain could impact everything. Therefore many species are at risk in BC and need special attention in order to sustain populations. The purpose of this is to consider the species that are most at risk in every land and water use decision. Public awareness is also a key factor for conservation. Public and private awareness should be made clear and accessible to everyone for a better understanding of the process and the different ways and methods to conserve and protect the ecosystem, even if it on a small scale.
Acting for a Healthy ecosystem
In order to protect and conserve the ecosystem, it is important to consider at-risk species as well the other species that are not considered endangered. The approach and focus can be general or for single species depending on the need. The key focus in this report is public awareness and group effort and in this case, community and regional effort to keep the ecosystem as balanced as it should be. To protect and conserve there should be a cooperation between all levels of government, First Nations, neighboring jurisdiction, land managers, landowners, resource users and communities. There are many knowledge gaps for several species, at risk or not, which should be resolved and management plans should be supported by the best available information. Management and development plans should prioritize at-risk species but also take into account the social and economic interests of BC’s communities.
The main theme of the report is that if all species were protected there would be no need for an at-risk species list. It is, therefore, important to understand for each species need to survive and what impacts and decreases or increases their population before implementing a plan and making a decision. It is also essential to assess the geographical area and identify potential threats, as well as sharing as much information between public and different agencies. Here are some actions that can improve species conservation as stated in the report: identification of an initial set of environmental values, development of clear government objectives related to at-risk species value and incorporate information about known movement and behavioral pattern of those species.
Management conservation can be approached through the ecosystem and the landscape, as two of the major threats for wildlife are loss of habitat and fragmentation of living landscape. The maintenance of those habitats are key components. BC’s ecosystem management is based on the Northern and Central Coast. Multi-species approaches are developed and focused to establish priority at-risk species, as well as options for developing and establishing landscape-level program for environmental monitoring. It is possible to implement habitat designation with the existing provincial park areas.
Quality information is the base of all development and management plans. This is why it is very important to be able to access environmental and scientific research that is going to be the base of the decision if a certain species needs protection or not.
The best way to circulate information like this is by streamline policies and procedure for data collection or developing a process to ensure species status assessment are made a priority and are informed by emerging issues.
The Conservation Data Center and species experts assess conservation priorities and recommend management plans, with the BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer which centralizes sources for information about at-risk species in the region. All this information when made accessible, will provide information for decision-makers, recovery planners, resource users and the public.
The effectiveness of the conservation actions depends on the accuracy of the information given. Up-to-date information is necessary to deal effectively with at risk wildlife and plants. Scientific and traditional knowledge are the necessary information source for on-site species-at-risk management and recovery activities. These activities are the most effective when undertaken with support from industries and third parties that are interested in the matter, with the aim to reduce threats for a species’ habitat or population, following special and rigorous procedures that will insure progress of the project.
BC’s Stewardship of at-risk species
The conservation of at-risk species would be most effective if a shared stewardship approach was established. It is a general responsibility to protect and conserve the biodiversity of the region, and many agencies such as Stewardship groups, conservation partners, First Nations, federal, provincial and local governments play an important part in conservation. The best way to establish a shared Stewardship approach is to have all federal and provincial government agencies coordinate and cooperate efforts to act, as well as engage all the local and regional governments with conservation and stewardship partners, and First Nations in a management effort. In order to get this into action, BC citizens should be encouraged to embrace stewardship responsibilities of species at risk. This can be supported in many ways starting with private landowners that make an effort to contribute and volunteer for the protection and the recovery of species at risk. Many voluntary initiatives such as incentives and funding but also group conservation volunteers inspire to continue and achieve more for the environment, as well as provide recognition and support for partners and groups.
Another action to prevent species from disappearing is to apply protection efforts across all sectors. The laws and policies that protect the at-risk species and their habitat should be made clear and straightforward in order to be fully implemented and effective. Therefore, it is essential to update the list of species at risk, analyse and identify upcoming opportunities and assess them for recommendation.
Measure and Report on Government’s investment
Moreover, monitoring and reports will provide an assurance of the program’s effectiveness, as governments and other third parties invest significantly in the conservation cause. Thus, monitoring and reporting will provide decision support for conservation and allow the identification of the actions that have to be prioritized and implemented. Therefore, developing an indicator for the State of Environment Reporting on the change of the native vertebrate species status in BC and creating a centralized internet approach to public reporting should help with the reports and monitoring actions in BC.
Finally, there are many ways to implement plans and act to protect and conserve the natural biodiversity of BC. The biodiversity is very prevalent in BC and it is essential for the ecosystem to keep it as it is. If anything would to go missing the whole chain of the ecosystem could fall and the results could be very costly on every level for the region.
- Source Minister of Environment, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. 2014. Protecting Vulnerable Species: A Five-Year Plan for Species at Risk in British Columbia. Available at : https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/environment/plants-animals-and-ecosystems/species-ecosystems-at-risk/species-at-risk-documents/five-year-plan-for-species-at-risk-in-bc_low-res.pdf [Accessed 03/2021].