Ecojustice, on behalf of Sierra Club BC and the Wilderness Committee, is challenging in court an overly narrow interpretation of the Species at Risk Act by federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault.
Following a petition sent by Ecojustice demanding that the Minister protect the critical habitat of the Marbled Murrelet, a threatened migratory seabird reliant on old-growth forests in coastal British Columbia, Minister Guilbeault issued a Protection Statement concluding that he was only required to protect the nests, not the rest of the habitat, of at-risk migratory birds like Marbled Murrelet.
Our clients’ essential bone of contention is that the Minister has too narrowly interpreted his duties to protect critical habitat for migratory birds as limited only to nests. Protecting nests alone is far from adequate since birds need far more than nests to survive and recover – they need healthy ecosystems that support their full life cycles. What’s more, for species like Marbled Murrelet, it’s nearly impossible to spot nests in towering individual trees from the ground, so habitat protection based on identifying individual nests is ineffective.
This case is a judicial review, which is a court hearing to determine if the decisions of administrative bodies or lawmakers are fair and justified under the law.