Between October 19 and November 30, 2016, we heard from British Columbians about their ideas and suggestions to better protect species at risk in B.C. Fruitful discussions occurred about the Principles for the Protection of Species at Risk. We heard your thoughts on how to increase protection of species at risk on private lands. Ideas were also shared about innovative funding options to support activities such as monitoring, research and stewardship programs for species at risk.

We heard from all regions of the province and from rural, urban and agricultural private land owners.  We also heard from all age ranges and from people that affiliated themselves with a variety of groups: environmental non-government organizations, interest groups, industry, First Nations governments, academic institutions and local governments.

Site visits 4394
Number of user votes placed on comments 1021
Subscribers to email update 169
Total comments 461
    Topic 1: Principles for the protection of species at risk 188
    Topic 2: Provincial protection of species at risk 110
    Topic 3: Protection of species at risk on private land 86
    Topic 4: Funding for species and ecosystems at risk 77

 

Topic 1: Principles for the protection of species at risk (188 comments)

  • Do you agree with these principles for the protection of species at risk?
  • Are there any key principles that you would add?

Respondents were generally supportive of the direction of these principles.

Principle #2 “Socio-economics” prompted the most discussion, as many respondents felt that weighing the more quantifiable socio-economics against the less measureable benefits of species or habitat would likely favour the former. Respondents noted that species and ecosystems are often much less flexible, and hence more vulnerable, than jobs and the economy, and therefore this principle should explicitly account for the long-term interests of both.

A number of respondents identified the need for more clarity regarding measurement and prioritization of the principles. Specifically for Principle #7 “Proceed on a priority basis”, there were questions as to what would be taken into account when deciding how to prioritize recoveries.

Respondents also suggested adding to the principles – for example, to include ensuring the protection of biodiversity and habitat, stronger wording regarding enforcement, and consideration and inclusion of public education and ethics.

 

Topic 2: Provincial protection of species at risk (110 comments)

  • What are your thoughts on how to improve the current provincial policy and legislative framework for protection of species at risk?
  • Are you aware of successful initiatives that governments in other jurisdictions have used to support the protection of species at risk?
  • Do you have any other thoughts on how we can achieve a balance between protecting species at risk and supporting a vibrant natural resource economy?

Many respondents identified the need to knit together the “patchwork” of existing regulations into one cohesive system in order to strengthen the Province’s protection of species at risk. Respondents felt the current framework needs more “teeth” and having multiple tools and legislation that apply to various sectors and stakeholders involved is inefficient. To resolve this, there was significant support for new stand-alone legislation.

New legislation was also cited as a solution to other issues respondents identified, including the need for more funding, enforcement, and increase in efficiency in how the various regulations are managed. Respondents frequently observed that many other provinces/territories have stand-alone species at risk legislation.

Respondents often commented that a successful protection system must focus not just on the species, but on their habitats and the province’s biodiversity overall.

Respondents challenged the possibility of “achieving a balance between protecting species at risk and supporting a vibrant natural resource economy.” They suggested that species at risk must be protected first under legislation. It was also suggested that the Province could look at ways to diversify the economy through bio-tourism and research into renewable technologies to stem the threat of climate change. Some respondents cited research that estimates the long-term financial benefits of pursuing these activities outweigh those gained from resource extraction.

 

Topic 3: Protection of species at risk on private land (86 Comments)

  • What motivates you to protect species at risk where you live?
  • Please provide examples of effective monetary and non-monetary incentives that the Province might consider.

Most respondents described their general appreciation of the natural world and its intrinsic value as their primary motivation for striving to protect species at risk. Respondents suggested that educating communities about species at risk could be one way to rally support for the voluntary protection of species at risk.

Some respondents suggested government offer tax incentives to encourage private landowners to protect species at risk, though not everyone supported this idea. Respondents discussed other monetary incentives, with most supporting the idea of government programs that would subsidize habitat restoration, improvements and protections on private lands through tax breaks and grants.

Respondents often cited changing regulations and red tape as disincentives to involving government in protecting species at risk on private land.

Finally, respondents generally agreed that species at risk should be protected regardless of whether their habitat is on private land, public land, or treaty land, and that this should be captured in legislation.

 

Topic 4: Funding for species and ecosystems at risk (77 Comments)

  • Do you have examples of other innovative funding opportunities that have worked well for conservation projects on a stable, long-term basis?
  • Of the models presented or of others that you are aware of, which do you prefer and why?

The majority of respondents echoed the need for stable funding to protect species at risk in B.C. and overwhelmingly identified tax revenue as the most stable source of funding.

Many respondents showed a strong preference for increasing the taxes paid by resource companies (e.g. timber, mining, gas, etc.) or by creating a new “conservation tax.” Respondents also expressed their wariness that private citizens would bear a disproportionate increase in taxes compared to resource intensive industries, which were largely identified by respondents as the cause of habitat destruction and climate change.

For other funding sources, respondents were generally supportive of private donations and trust funds, but the majority saw these as secondary sources, with core funding provided by the government.

Respondents put forward a number of innovative funding ideas. Many described different methods to tax resource industries, while others proposed ideas for securing funding to protect species at risk through various fees and charges.

Respondents were generally concerned that any new funding, whether voluntary (e.g. donations) or involuntary (e.g. taxes, fees, etc.) could be absorbed into the Province’s general revenue fund, and therefore would not be a stable funding source. As a solution, respondents suggested species at risk legislation could designate specific funding for species at risk programming.