Four of British Columbia’s leading environmental groups launched a major campaign today calling for provincial endangered species legislation, and taking a poke at the province’s brand as the “best place on earth,” unveiling a re-worked version of the government’s official logo, featuring unhappy endangered species.
Endorsed by a growing list of prominent Canadians including rocker Sam Roberts, and guest speakers, Whistler Mayor, Ken Melamed and Kai Chan, Canada Research Chair in Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services at UBC, the campaign seeks to reconcile BC’s identity as the “best place on earth” with its true identity as one of the last places on earth without an endangered species law.
“A voluntary approach to species protection is simply not working: BC needs an endangered species law,” said Ken Melamed, Mayor of Whistler. “As the Mayor of a community that will be in the international spotlight in 2010, I want to be able to tell the world that our province is leading the world on this important file. We need the same leadership on endangered species that the government has shown in its efforts to tackle climate change.”
The Union of BC Municipalities at its recent convention passed a resolution calling on the provincial government to enact stand-alone endangered species legislation.
“More than four dozen species have disappeared from our province, and the casualty list is growing in length and urgency,” said Dr. Faisal Moola, Director of Science for the David Suzuki Foundation. “With more biodiversity than any other province, BC is an ark for wildlife, but until we have regulation in the form an endangered species law, that ark is sinking fast.”
To help make their case, the groups have released a report and launched a website titled, “The Last Place on Earth” (www.lastplaceonearth.ca) detailing BC’s loss of biodiversity and making concrete recommendations for the development of endangered species legislation.
“For years scientists and conservation groups have been ringing alarm bells about the worsening biodiversity crisis in BC,” said Candace Batycki, Director of Forest Programs for ForestEthics. “Our polling and focus groups have repeatedly shown that British Columbians are not only passionate about this issue but that they are shocked and embarrassed when they find out that BC doesn’t have an endangered species law.”
“We have seen what is happening to our killer whales due to lack of action,” said Gwen Barlee of the Wilderness Committee. “We have over 1600 species at risk in BC, and if we want to have grizzly bears and badgers in our future BC needs to step up to the plate and introduce an endangered species law – a law that is science based and that will actually protect habitat and recover species.”
“Compared with every other industrialized nation and region in the world, BC sticks out like a sore thumb for not having an endangered species law,” said Sean Nixon, a staff lawyer with Ecojustice.
“We have the richest biodiversity in Canada, and no law to protect it.”
British Columbia has the richest biodiversity of any Canadian province. It is home to 76 percent of Canada’s bird species, 70 percent of its freshwater species and thousands of other animals and plants.
Well over 3,600 species call BC home, and many of these, such as the mountain goat and mountain caribou, live mostly – or only – in the province. Unfortunately, BC’s biological wealth is under severe stress. A recent analysis found that 1,640 species, ranging from phantom orchids to Vancouver Island marmots – 43 percent – are currently at risk.