British Columbia has the greatest biological diversity of any province or territory in Canada. Yet increasing numbers of species in British Columbia are threatened with extinction. The current patchwork of provincial laws and regulations has not effectively prevented species declines. Recently, the Provincial Government has committed to enacting an endangered species law. Drawing upon our scientific and legal expertise, we offer recommendations for key features of endangered species legislation that build upon strengths and avoid weaknesses observed elsewhere. We recommend striking an independent Oversight Committee to provide recommendations about listing species, organize Recovery Teams, and monitor the efficacy of actions taken. Recovery Teams would evaluate and prioritize potential actions for individual species or groups of species that face common threats or live in a common area, based on best available evidence (including natural and social science and Indigenous Knowledge). Our recommendations focus on implementing an adaptive approach, with ongoing and transparent monitoring and reporting, to reduce delays between determining when a species is at risk and taking effective actions to save it. We urge lawmakers to include this strong evidentiary basis for species recovery as they tackle the scientific and socioeconomic challenges of building an effective species at risk Act.
Westwood AR, Otto SP, Mooers A, Darimont C, Hodges KE, Johnson C, Starzomski BM, Burton C, Chan KMA, Festa-Bianchet M, Fluker S, Gulati S, Jacob AL, Kraus D, Martin TG, Palen WJ, Reynolds JD, and Whitton J. 2019. Protecting biodiversity in British Columbia: Recommendations for developing species at risk legislation. FACETS 4: 136–160. doi:10.1139/facets-2018-0042