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Report of the British Columbia Task Force on Species at Risk
Province of BC
British Columbia is almost unique in the developed world in still having such a variety of significant natural areas and values, and so many remaining options for their management. The province is an attractive place to live and work because of those natural values and because of the economic alternatives which they provide. The population of our province will continue to grow, and we will continue to make our living from the land and resources. Our challenge is to maintain prosperity and social harmony while also respecting our responsibilities to steward the land in a manner that will sustain those special natural values on which we depend and for which we, increasingly alone in the world have an ability to ensure their continuance. One of the major components of this stewardship is dealing with species at risk. The Task Force has been asked by government to develop practical and fiscally responsible recommendations for improving management of species at risk in British Columbia. Accordingly, we have elected to build on the many conservation initiatives that have already been accomplished. Our report provides advice that is aimed at making early gains on both public and private land while proposing direction for the long term that will help to address the continuing pressures of development and climate change. Until now, following the example of the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk (1996), the province has been largely focusing on individual species, seeking to prevent extirpation or extinction or to effect recovery at the level of species and populations. A single-species approach does not adequately deal with the unique conditions of British Columbia, which has the greatest biodiversity of any province in the country. Because of that biodiversity, we have an extremely large number of species that are being assessed at risk. This approach is leading us down a path of increasing complexity, overlapping initiatives and unsupportable costs even as the numbers of at-risk species continue to grow. The Task Force believes that a strategic shift is needed to alter our focus to the landscape level and to incorporate conservation objectives into mainstream resource management decisions at the same time as decisions are made leading to new development. The report outlines impediments to effective management of species at risk and the remedies needed to address them by refinements to existing statutes, regulations, management systems and citizen engagement practices. Our advice is embodied in our statement of a vision of the future in which the province has successfully balanced its strong resource-based economy with a resilient supporting environment. In order to contribute to realizing this vision the Task Force makes 16 general recommendations with associated advice on the actions needed for successful implementation.
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