The Last Place on Earth: British Columbia Needs a Law to Protect Species from Habitat Loss and Global Warming
British Columbia has the richest biodiversity of any Canadian province. It is home to 76 per cent of Canada’s bird species, 70 per cent of its freshwater fish species and thousands of other animals and plants. Well over 3,600 species live in B.C., and many of these, such as mountain goat and mountain caribou, live mostly — or only — in the province. For others, such as the migratory trumpeter swan and sandhill crane, B.C. is a critical wintering ground or stopover. Unlike most Canadian and U.S. jurisdictions, B.C. still has all the large species that were present at the time of European settlement, including grizzly bears, wolverines, wolves and cougars.
However, scientists tell us that more than 1,600 species, from blue birds to killer whales, are currently at risk in B.C. and levels of endangerment are especially high within some wildlife groups.
The good news is that, with strong laws and appropriate planning in our own backyard, we can successfully reverse or at least slow this tragic trend. The province can bolster the conservation gains achieved thus far (e.g., the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement) by introducing a strong provincial Species and Ecosystem Protection Act.
A strong act would:
- Identify species and ecosystems at risk through an independent, scientific listing process
- Immediately protect the full habitat of listed species and ecosystems until a final decision is made about how much long-term protection they need
- Restore species and ecosystems to health