Evidence of meeting #30 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was conservation.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Rick Bates  Executive Director, Canadian Wildlife Federation
  • Ian Davidson  Executive Director, Nature Canada
  • John Lounds  President and Chief Executive Officer, Nature Conservancy Canada
  • Michael Bradstreet  Vice-President, Conservation, Nature Conservancy Canada
  • David Browne  Director of Conservation, Canadian Wildlife Federation

4:05 p.m.

A voice

Yes.

4:05 p.m.

Executive Director, Nature Canada

Ian Davidson

It has brought close to $1 billion, I would say, into the working landscape, not only in Canada but in the United States and Mexico. We could provide you more information on that, but it really and truly is one of those flagship joint venture initiatives that we should be aware of.

The other one I would bring to your attention is one that's still very much in the early stages. There is a species at risk—the greater sage-grouse—in the southern parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan. A lot of efforts have been undertaken to try to conserve the species. It's found in leks, which are really important areas and very important sites where males and females come together in April and a courtship process takes place. These are very sensitive areas. When you have ranching, oil development, or infrastructure development, these individual species are highly impacted.

There are efforts right now on the landscape to work with ranchers, with the oil sector, and with biologists and scientists who know what to do to try to conserve these species. While it's still at an early stage, it offers some really interesting opportunities to bridge the various sectors that are engaged in wildlife conservation in particular.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Calgary Centre-North, AB

Just to close, I'll leave this with you, John. We've talked about some of the things that are working. What are some of the things that we need to avoid with regard to the development of a conservation plan? What things haven't worked in the past—in 15 seconds.

4:10 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

4:10 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Nature Conservancy Canada

John Lounds

I think my colleagues here have alluded to what hasn't worked in the past, or what has worked up to a point, and that is having each side of the equation—whether it be the economic side versus the conservation or environmental side—drawing hard and fast lines around “thou shalt not trespass” over my line here. What you end up with, then, is no way of actually going beyond where we are today in terms of conservation.

I can give an example. For instance, mining companies are quite worried about seeing expanded protected areas that would have subsurface rights taken away, because you never know what you're going to find there some day.

Are there some other mechanisms? That is why I put forward the biodiversity credits. Are there some other ways in which we can look at resolving these tensions? Really, they shouldn't exist. If you actually talk to the folks in the mining companies, in many ways they're just as keen about seeing areas conserved as we are.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Mark Warawa

Thank you.

The time has expired.

Monsieur Pilon, you have seven minutes.

April 24th, 2012 / 4:10 p.m.

NDP

François Pilon Laval—Les Îles, QC

Thank you very much.

Thank you for your great presentations, especially that of Mr. Davidson. You clearly explained all the points that we had raised.

My first question is for Mr. Bates and Mr. Lounds. I am very concerned about this.

In your view, what should the objectives of the national conservation plan be?

Let's start with Mr. Lounds.

4:10 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Nature Conservancy Canada

John Lounds

I am going to answer in English.

We could talk about that. We didn't actually put that in the presentation because we know other groups have talked about the protect, connect, restore notions when you're looking at a landscape. In fact, that is how the Nature Conservancy goes about deciding where its role is best played on the landscape.

I could have Michael Bradstreet speak to this, but basically it involves looking at ecoregions of the country to assess what's needed in an ecoregion in order to ensure that you perpetuate the species over time. Then from there you look at what is already in a protected state and what further work needs to be done so that you get to those kinds of goals. Then you drill down from there to say, where can the Nature Conservancy of Canada best work? Where is that combination of opportunity and threat that makes sense for us to be doing our work? And we drill down to a property level.

So you can take it at a high level, walk right down to a property level and take it right back up again, but the idea behind it is to think about a landscape—and normally we think in terms of ecoregions—think about that land because of its common ecological characteristics, think about that landscape in a way where you're going to perpetuate the species that are found there over time. That's basically how we look at it.

4:10 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Wildlife Federation

Rick Bates

I think one thing that is often overlooked in our conversation around landscapes and regions.... To be sure, habitat is critical, but one of the things we'd like to ensure doesn't get lost in that perspective is individual species. We have many individual species at risk, more than 600 in Canada. It's a challenge to keep them from going extinct, and I think we need to find some space within the plan to respond to the pressures facing individual species.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

François Pilon Laval—Les Îles, QC

Thank you.

You say that you want to connect Canadians to nature. What do you suggest they do?

4:15 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Wildlife Federation

Rick Bates

There are a number of things with connecting Canadians to nature. One is, of course, improving that level of conversation we have around development and conservation, so that we're speaking clearly and understanding clearly that there are trade-offs we need to make. When you're doing conservation, you're forgoing development; when you're doing development, you're forgoing conservation. That's a fact, and I think the more we can have adult conversations about that within the society, that's helpful to all of us. So that's one thing that would be helpful about connecting Canadians to nature.

But there are others as well. Just letting kids get outside and encouraging that play and learning outdoors where we take some of our education from theory to reality I think is helpful and fun. Conservation work can be an awful lot of fun, and I think to help instill that and to allow kids that opportunity to play is very helpful.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

François Pilon Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Davidson, what types of incentives should be available to private landowners to conserve habitats and secure migratory roots?

4:15 p.m.

Executive Director, Nature Canada

Ian Davidson

Thank you for the question. I'll respond in English, if you don't mind.

Your question was about what sorts of incentives could be provided, then, for people who own lands to encourage the conservation of species, if I understand.

There are a number of different types of mechanisms for doing that. One of the ways we do that at Nature Canada is a program called Important Bird Areas. That program identifies the suite of globally important sites for birds and biodiversity across this country. There are about 600 of those.

One of the ways we try to recognize individuals is to engage the public. We call these “caretakers”, local community people who adopt a site. What we try to do is work with these communities and individuals at the site level and recognize the work they do. I think recognition is a huge part of the issue. Many people are undertaking conservation at many different levels, and often we don't get that pat on the back, if you will. We don't get recognized for the work we do.

So we believe strongly that recognition is important. We have local awards and provincial awards and national awards for individuals, for the caretakers, as I said.

In terms of other incentives, obviously there are the tax incentives. One of the things Nature Canada does is support a coalition called the Green Budget Coalition. Both of my colleagues...or at least Nature Conservancy is a member of that. One of the things we've been pushing collectively with our colleagues is for tax incentives for local property owners, particularly those who have endangered species on their properties.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Mark Warawa

And time has expired.

Mr. Sopuck, you have seven minutes.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Bates, what's the weakness in the single species approach?