Discussion #2: Stewardship of Species at Risk on private land

Species at risk occur broadly across British Columbia. Some species are known to occur in only one, isolated area, while others are much more widespread and rely on larger areas for their habitat. As a result, effectively protecting species at risk from extinction will sometimes be necessary on private land.

What happens if there is a species at risk on my land?
Having a species at risk on your private land could have a number of implications, depending on the species itself, how you use your land, and what rules are developed in species-at-risk legislation. However, the Province understands that supporting people and in some cases, providing options about how they can protect species at risk on their land, is likely to be the most effective and preferred approach to the conservation of these vulnerable species.

During the previous engagement in 2016, we heard ideas about how to help land-owners protect species at risk, ranging from financial incentives to the need for developing greater education and awareness related to species at risk.

As the Province moves forward in developing species-at-risk legislation, we recognize the importance of helping landowners understand what they would need to do if there is a species at risk on their land, what the impacts of the legislation may be, and how they can benefit if there is a species at risk on their land. To better understand this, we would like to hear from you.

Please submit your comments on the following questions:

  • What would increase your willingness and ability to conserve species at risk on your land?
  • What successes do you know about regarding the protection of species at risk on private land in B.C.? How can we build on those successes?


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    [-] Doug Beckett

    Having easy (and free) access to an experts advise to discuss:
    – whether or not we have a species at risk on our property;
    – measures we could take to improve the situation for the species at risk; and
    – support mechanisms that we could apply for assistance to put the appropriate measures in place;
    would greatly increase the chances that we would take concrete measures to support the species at risk.

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    [-] MG

    One of the things I have noticed in my neighborhood is that there are properties around Swan Lake in Saanich that have fences or designated areas with signs that say habitat for species at risk. I think it is in regards to the painted turtles but that is only a guess and I am not sure exactly what happens to the species or the property. I always wonder what would happen if my property was similarly impacted and since it only a few doors down it could happen. I think there needs to be a place to go for people to understand what species are at risk in your neighbourhood and what to do if you find a species at risk on your own property. It is not very clear the process to regular home owners and I would guess some people might be nervous to report the situation if they are worried about what would happen to their property.

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    [-] Tim Ennis

    I have worked successfully at protecting and restoring SAR populations on private land for over 20 years throughout BC. Increased support for the Land Trust sector in BC, specifically for land acquisition and conservation covenant programs, would be a good place to start. Also, making changes to the Local Government Act such that municipalities are enabled to offer property tax exemptions to private landowners who voluntarily protect habitat through the use of covenants is a very low cost, effective incentive-based solution.

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    [-] Ursula Lowrey

    Although I legally “own” my land, I know that it is part of a larger ecosystem both in space and time. Hence I have a social and environmental obligation to share it with other species especially those at risk of extinction. This change in philosophy needs to be communicated in our society, that we are only borrowing the land from past and future living things.

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    [-] Scott Leyland

    There are known Wolverines in the Red Mountain Resort s “Controlled Recreation Area”, very near a proposed project of 10 rental cabins in critical subalpine valley. This will transform a winter-daytime only (except maintenance and construction) occupation to a year round 24/7 permit. This is a prime Grizzly (and several other large animal) corridor. It appears to be a slam dunk for the Resort. How can such an erosion of critical habitat, for such endangered (and non-endangered) species be permitted?

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    [-] Richard Quinlan

    Governments and environmental organizations need to be sensitive to rural private landholders concerns, and to recognize that it is often land management practices of the current owners that has allowed species at risk to continue existing in certain areas. Positive recognition and financial incentives need to be provided rather than threats of imposed operational changes and causing of worry of shutting down of agricultural and industrial operations due to presence of a species at risk. There are several good examples of how voluntary stewardship can be effective for conservation and recovery of species at risk, most notably the MULTISAR project in the grassland natural region of southern Alberta.

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    [-] Ali Jones

    – Need more public education about species at risk, and developing a conservation ethic
    – Fund municipalities/ NGOs to educate and support landowners about local species and ecosystems (how to coexist with species at risk on their property, for example, bats roosting in or near their house, supporting landowners to plant native plant gardens/ or protect habitat)
    – Develop all ages education programs about local species, ecosystems, and ECOSYSTEM SERVICES (for example, insect populations controlled by healthy assemblage of wetland wildlife – bats, frogs, dragonflies… or encouraging native pollinators through a native plant garden, also benefiting gardens and local food production)

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    [-] Justin

    Support and resources that assisted landowners in increasing the capacity of their lands to provide habitat for species at risk would be a benefit.

    There are many stewardship organisations throughout the province who have a long history of aiding landowners in managing the capacity of their lands to provide habitat for local species. These organisations should be better supported and funded by government.

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    [-] Tamara Henry

    I like the idea of providing incentives for private land owners such as tax exemptions, awards and public recognition for carrying out conservation initiatives on private land. Also increased public funding for stewardship organizations to facilitate the process.

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    [-] North Okanagan Naturalist Club

    1. Need more public education about species at risk and developing a conservation ethic. Get public schools involved. Develop all ages education programs about local species, ecosystems. Make ‘species at risk’ common knowledge to the person on the street. If ‘No Litter” or “Recycle that Bottle” campaigns can work, then awareness of species could work too.
    2. Work with Land Trust Organizations with funding, research, and awareness to the public.
    3.Fund municipalities/ NGOs to educate and support landowners about local species and ecosystems (how to coexist with species at risk on their property. Make having a species at risk on your property an honour not a detriment.
    4, Fund Universities for research in all aspects of species at risk from identification of ecosystems and species at risk recovery strategies. Create more individuals with the expertise available to land owners at little cost to them.
    5. Encourage more recognition of land owners that cooperate with protecting their lands.
    6. Ecosystems need to be protected as well as species. Corridors between ecosystems need to be identified and land owners encouraged to participate in the process.

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    [-] KX

    All private land “owners” have the duty of responsibility to protect nature and at risk species on that land (i do). After-all, the true owners are nature (these species themselves) and First Nations who graciously allowed me to be born in this wonderful supernatural province. I am a caretaker of the piece of land i have paper “title” too. If only there was more ways to encourage others to enthusiastically think in compatible ways (i suck at communication).

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    [-] David Haley RPF

    Having read the primer document, and other related documents, I am extremely disappointed that the topics of:
    1) incentives for private landowners and
    2) recognition of past and current voluntary conservation initiatives by private landowners are not mentioned in the primer document.
    My land is sustainably managed in an environmentally sustainable manner yet I am continually frustrated that no incentives exist or that governments have chosen not to apply tools that would allow them to provide incentives to landowners – yet allow for more sustainable development.
    Voluntary conservation activities by private landowners have conserved significant ecological assets and have provided a basis for this topic of discussion and for future activities. Their land ethic needs to be recognized and encouraged.

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    [-] Jody Holmes

    In an ideal world the land would not belong to individuals but rather shared by everyone. Is it fair for those who were born wealthy to be owners of the land while those who were born into be poverty be at the mercy of landowners? We should all take the responsibility to share the land and natural resources among all the species of the Earth and take care of the land so it can continue to provide us the essential elements we need to survive.

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    [-] Helen D

    Stewardship must first be addressed on PUBLIC lands. The government has not done enough to protect habitat of species at risk on PUBLIC land. Only once all avenues of protecting habitat for species at risk and ecosystems at risk on public land should there be a shift in focus to private lands.

    I have conducted landowner contact programs with private landowners who have species at risk on their lands. The Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Land Trust and various smaller NGOs are doing a good job but lack enough funding. Government needs to create strong incentives to protect private land in BC, rather than the current system that is very expensive and discourages landowners who want to do the right thing. Landowners should have all the covenant costs covered and receive tax breaks (see “Tim’s” comments). Conservation Funds (e.g., Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund) should be encouraged with local governments to increase funds available to local initiatives.

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    [-] Judy

    There needs to be more publicity about the location of some of the smaller and more vulnerable species. Within the last 5 years, the landowner completely logged the section of the Dromedary Jumping Slug habitat that was on their land. I don’t know whether this was through ignorance or lack of care. Fortunately, there is more habitat area remaining in Mt Arrowsmith Regional Park, but I wonder how often this type of action occurs.
    There needs to be a program to compensate landowners for setting aside the land that is essential for a species existence.

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    [-] Jeff

    Legislation protecting Species at Risk needs to apply to the Private Managed Forest Lands. A vast swath of Vancouver Island is owned by a handful of timber companies who operate with very few rules regarding the protection of habitat for SAR. The identification and preservation of critical habitat needs to be a requirement prior to any road building, timber harvesting, or other activities on these lands. Obviously the same is true of public lands.

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    [-] Janet

    The language needs to change as well. It is not just “species” at risk but certain types of ecosystems such as wet lands and all the species that dwell in and around. I am continually appalled by the destruction of critical and disappearing wetlands by private owners that have no concern or understanding of what their activities do. I have lived beside a small wetland beside Kootenay Lake all of my life. Over the years I have seen, including but not limited to, elk, deer, moose, otter, frogs, toads, heron, eagles, cougar, coyote and bear all using this area. This wetland is at risk by the owner and by association, the animals that frequent it.

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    [-] Jill Thompson

    I think an education campaign aimed at all private landowners to clarify what rights we ‘own’ and what rights are not included in ownership would be very valuable.
    What does it mean to own land in 2018, when reconciliation and court determinations make it clear that most ownership is questionable anyway? We seem to accept that mineral rights aren’t included so can we build on that? Do ownership rights end at enjoyment of privacy and the right to sell? Do we own the right to do anything on our land that impacts the environment or people beyond our land? E.g. if we pollute our water and it flows downstream?; if we have a party that disturbs neighbours? if our logging practices cause flooding, drought, landslides, etc?….
    We understand property lines but what are the rights we hold within those lines? I think if people were educated better about what property ownership does and doesn’t include, they could more readily understand that they are not permitted to do anything that endangers species.

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    [-] Malcolm Walker

    Can the Province work better in collaboration with organizations such as Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative whose entire objective is ensuring a conservation corridor spanning the length of BC that includes private lands? Can the Province also not log old growth forest as soon as depleted Mountain Cariboo populations vanish from their habitat?

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    [-] Amy

    Information regarding the desired ecosystems of plants and animals in each area needs to be available using mapping software, that allows a person to select where they live and get a listing of all the beneficial plants to incorporate that will help both plants and animals at risk thrive. Knowing the plants or the animals themselves is helpful, but even more helpful is knowing what they need around to ensure the best soil composition, shade, water access and dens/nesting sites. Funding that would help a person to establish a system on their property, as well as identified sources of plants that would create these habitable landscapes, would also help. The government could also partner with nurseries across B.C. to carry the plants that would assist in these goals, and to provide educational messaging both on the display of these plants and in pamphlet form, to assure their best chance at growth and survival.

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    [-] David Haley

    need a change in legislation to enable local governments to grant conservation tax incentives to private landowners who wish to do environmentally correct actions and receive financial benefits for the provision of environmental services that benefit the general public.

    There is a proposed legislative change underway but I suggest that it needs both public and political support to make it a reality.

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    [-] Scott Ellis

    There needs to be financial incentives to encourage participation as well as mitigation for those financially impacted. Plus, transparent, straight-forward information and easy-to-access/use resources.

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