Evidence of meeting #31 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 nature.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Peter Kendall  Executive Director and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Earth Rangers
  • Len Ugarenko  President, Wildlife Habitat Canada
  • Sophie Gallais  Project Manager, Protected Areas, Nature Québec
  • Mark Northwood  President and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Earth Rangers

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Mark Warawa

I'll call the meeting to order.

Welcome everyone to this 31st meeting of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development as we continue our study on developing a national conservation plan.

I want to welcome each of the witnesses. We have three witness groups: Earth Rangers, Wildlife Habitat Canada, and Nature Québec.

Each of the witness groups has 10 minutes. We will begin with Earth Rangers.

3:35 p.m.

Peter Kendall Executive Director and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Earth Rangers

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and committee members for inviting us to appear before you today to contribute to your study on the development of a national conservation plan for Canada.

To help you understand our thoughts, we felt it was important for us first to say a few words about the Earth Rangers and our programs.

Earth Rangers is a national NGO focused on communicating a positive, science-based message to children on the importance of protecting biodiversity. Through our live programs in schools and community venues, our extensive online community and almost daily television presence, we educate well over a million children each year and inspire them to become directly involved in protecting animals and their habitats through our bring back the wild program.

In thinking about the purpose and goals of a national conservation plan, we tried to imagine what would be important to our stakeholders, namely children.

A number of years ago we undertook a major study right across North America on what environmental issues children cared about and what would motivate them to get more involved. The results of that study were very clear: Children's number one concern is the protection of habitat and wildlife. The children went on to say that in order to get involved, they wanted to ensure that their actions were having a direct impact on helping wildlife. To understand this commitment of kids, I want to share a couple of the thousands of letters and comments we receive from children each year.

The first one is from Jill, age 7:

I always have loved animals and when I donated $50 for the peregrine falcon, I was so glad I was finally able to do something for an animal. My whole life I’ve wanted to help animals. The way you get people to help animals is amazing!

The second one is from Alex, age 9:

My name is Alex and I am an Earth Ranger. I love animals – all kinds of animals. That’s why I became an Earth Ranger. When I grow up I want to be a veterinarian. I chose to help protect the woodland caribou because it was Christmas and Santa needs his reindeer. Canada has so many awesome animals. When I grow up I don’t want all of our amazing animals to be gone. I think more kids should become Earth Rangers because it is up to us to save the wild animals of Canada. My name is Alex and I love animals.

At Earth Rangers we have a very ambitious vision, and that's to protect enough habitat together to ensure the long-term survival of all species in Canada. We and the children we work with believe that the purpose, goal, and guiding principle of a national conservation plan should be to mobilize and bring together Canadians in their efforts to protect our biodiversity.

We also believe that in order for a national conservation plan to be successful, it needs to include more than the creation of just protected areas and better practices on working lands and waterscapes. Biodiversity is also heavily impacted by the choices we make in our everyday lives. Our transportation, food, consumer goods, and energy choices all have an impact on biodiversity.

The good news is that we have the technology and know-how to live more sustainably. An example of this is the Earth Rangers Centre for Sustainable Technology. The centre uses less than a quarter of the energy of an average Canadian commercial building. We continue to cut that energy use by over 10% a year through new technologies and better practices.

As a result, we strongly believe that a national conservation plan should include a significant public outreach and education component. We personally believe the best place to start that outreach is with children. Children care deeply about these issues and are ready to take action. We can really see this through our bring back the wild program.

This program enables kids to raise funds to help support one of four different wildlife habitat protection, research or restoration projects across the country. We only launched this program in April 2010 and already we've seen over 200,000 children across the country holding art sales, selling cakes and cookies, setting up lemonade stands, giving up their Christmas and birthday presents, selling buttons, and going door-to-door to raise funds and raise awareness, all in the name of helping wildlife.

Not only do children themselves care deeply, but they can also be an incredible influence on their parents and other adults. Our earth rangers have the desire and can be a very powerful force for change.

I have a cute example of how much of an impact this can have. It happened just this past weekend.

One of our earth rangers, seven-year-old Winter Slade, decided to have a bring back the wild birthday party and asked her friends to donate to her campaign instead of buying gifts. One day after school last week, as she was telling her friends about her birthday party idea, Winter overheard some of her friends' parents making fun of her. One mother actually asked why she would do that, that it was a stupid idea. Winter and her mother took action and posted the story online. Over the next two days, Winter received thousands of emails and comments from adults all around the world. The story landed on the front page of the Huffington Post. Hundreds of people stepped up and donated to her campaign, allowing her to exceed her original goal of raising $500. As of today she has raised well over $5,000.

I want to share one of the comments sent to Winter, as I think it speaks to the impact children can have on adults. This is from an adult somewhere in the world, who didn't leave his or her name:

Winter, it is not so often that I hear of someone so young who wants to make the world a better place. When I was your age I wanted gifts, but now at my age all I want for Christmas and birthdays is to make others happy and keep the world safe. Congratulations for protecting the pine marten; I learned today when I was donating to your page that humans are their biggest threat (even more so than eagles and foxes!). So you are not only raising money for a great cause, but you are raising awareness as well. What a great way to spend a birthday!

Finally, we feel that the national conservation plan should be used to build our national pride, and here in Canada we have a great deal to be proud of. Canada built the world's first national parks service. We've protected over 12.4 million hectares and we're stewards of much of the world's remaining wild spaces. This government alone has made a number of major announcements, including a large extension to the Nahanni National Park and the establishment of a one-million-hectare national marine conservation area in western Lake Superior.

As part of the plan, governments, industry, and NGOs need to work together to celebrate these successes more. These meetings are a good indication of your desire to make all Canadians part of this discussion.

We thank you again for including us. Please note that all of us at Earth Rangers are pleased to contribute whatever we can to aid in the development of the national conservation plan.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Mark Warawa

Thank you, Mr. Kendall.

Next, we'll hear from Wildlife Habitat Canada.

You have up to 10 minutes.

3:40 p.m.

Len Ugarenko President, Wildlife Habitat Canada

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee. My name is Len Ugarenko. I'm the president of Wildlife Habitat Canada. I appreciate the opportunity of being invited here to present some ideas for your consideration about a national conservation plan.

Wildlife Habitat Canada is a national, non-profit, charitable organization that was established in 1984 by Environment Canada, provincial governments, territorial governments and conservation organizations. We work to conserve, restore and enhance wildlife habitat by funding conservation projects, promoting conservation action, and fostering coordination among conservation groups.

Wildlife Habitat Canada receives the bulk of its funding, which is derived from the purchase of the Canadian wildlife habitat conservation stamp, from Environment Canada. The stamp is purchased primarily by waterfowl hunters to validate their federal migratory game bird hunting permit. Since 1985, we have invested over $60 million in support of over 1,500 conservation projects on private and public lands across Canada.

As for my credentials, I have over 25 years of experience working on wildlife, fisheries and natural resource management projects across Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. This includes working with all levels of government, non-governmental conservation organizations, the corporate and industrial sectors, aboriginal peoples and numerous foundations across North America, to name a few. I am a founding director of the Canadian Business and Biodiversity Council, a member of the Ontario Biodiversity Council, as well as the North American Wetlands Conservation Council and the North American Bird Conservation Initiative Council. So I've been professionally and personally involved in conservation all my life.

A suggestion for the purpose of a national conservation plan is that it should conserve Canada’s natural capital to ensure a secure future for generations to come. Natural resources and ecosystem resources are essential to human health as well as the health of the environment and the economy. It should also promote biodiversity and sustainable development, and it should promote partnerships among federal, provincial and territorial governments, conservation organizations, and industry to move forward toward the common goals of a national conservation plan.

Those goals could include the conservation and restoration of wildlife habitat, connecting Canadians to nature and to wildlife conservation, with particular emphasis on youth and new Canadians. We need the public to both commit to a national conservation plan and help implement the plan if it is to be successful. The government and the conservation community cannot do it alone. It should promote sustainable development by engaging sectors such as agriculture, forestry, mining, and the oil and gas industries. All should be included in a national conservation plan.

The guiding principles of a national conservation plan could include that it be a collaborative effort with the conservation community, aboriginal peoples, industry and government at all levels. Other government departments need to be involved, including Fisheries, Health, Agriculture, Aboriginal Affairs, Natural Resources Canada, and Immigration to name a few.

It needs to be a realistic executable plan for on-the-ground conservation activities, yet it should not be overly ambitious. Not everyone will get what they want.

National conservation plan progress and achievements need to be measured to keep the plan moving forward. It needs to be a living document that can accommodate additions and revisions as the landscape changes, such as with global warming and climate change, and we should continually look for opportunities to generate revenue and save money while doing good things for the environment.

One suggestion is having multi-year contribution agreements. The government could implement multi-year contribution agreements that fund organizations to reduce the high administrative costs of negotiating annually.

There are ways to leverage existing conservation funding mechanisms, and I'll use Wildlife Habitat Canada’s grant program as an example. Revenue raised through the sale of the Canadian wildlife habitat conservation stamp is currently being used to fund projects on other national and international initiatives, such as the North American waterfowl management plan and other migratory game bird projects. The conservation activities executed through this program can directly support the national conservation plan's goals and objectives. With programs that are already in place, we won't be reinventing the wheel. They can be leveraged to further support and complement a national conservation plan.

We could also utilize existing delivery vehicles, such as the North American waterfowl management plan joint ventures, and other conservation organizations that have developed long-term geographic conservation plans across Canada. There are existing structures, such as aboriginal councils and the Canadian Wildlife Directors Committee to do that.

I've made a reference to the migratory game bird hunting permit stamp. The price of that stamp has not changed since 1991. A small increase in the price of the stamp would provide more money for wildlife conservation projects at no cost to the government, and these projects could be used to implement aspects of a national conservation plan.

Healthy fish habitat is imperative to maintaining human health, since water quality is a basic element that everybody relies on. If it is approached properly, funds dedicated for fish habitat projects will reduce costs associated with erosion, flood control, water quality and quantity, and water purification and transport costs.

The conservation priorities of a national conservation plan should include conserving, restoring, and protecting known critical habitats that support biodiversity; preserving intact ecosystems and watersheds; restoring species at risk; and creating dedicated protected areas, such as expanding the national park system, especially urban parks. These could be used to plan and manage adaptation to climate change and to educate the public.

The implementation priorities of a national conservation plan could include the following.

There is a need to get a national conservation plan developed and implemented reasonably soon. Having an NCP stuck in the bureaucratic layers of study and process development will not be helpful. We need to have a champion for the conservation plan in order to keep moving it forward.

Another priority is to communicate with the conservation community to focus efforts towards common goals and reduce duplication.

Public education is necessary to ensure active involvement and commitment on their part. You should increase public awareness and participation in conservation and create more opportunities for involvement with nature. Focus on connecting youth to nature, as they are the stewards and leaders of the future. Promote the benefits, both immediate and long-term, especially in the areas of health and education. New Canadians need to be educated about the necessity of taking care of nature and must be active participants.

You could work with the waterfowl joint ventures—the North American Wetlands Conservation Council, the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, and the Canadian Wildlife Directors Committee—to leverage projects that are at the implementation stage or already in progress.

In terms of the consultation process, the minister should consider having a collaborative process, drawing on the expertise of the people and organizations who have the knowledge and resources to aid in the development and implementation of a successful national conservation plan. However, the process should not get bogged down by the involvement of too many representatives.

Finally, we did not come here today to give you statistics on wetland loss, air and water pollution, declining wildlife species, nor global warming or climate change. We all know there are problems and issues facing the environment that will ultimately have an impact on society in the areas of health, quality of life, and economy.

Government has taken a leadership role in taking on the task of preparing a national conservation plan to conserve, restore, and connect. Organizations such as Wildlife Habitat Canada have both an opportunity and a responsibility to participate and help with this endeavour.

If done properly, this will not be the usual conservation plan that has been put together by the usual conservation organizations. The result can be a national conservation plan that embraces all aspects of society, including urban, rural, and wilderness components. It will be a plan that makes a difference in the lives of all Canadians by taking care of what we now have in the natural world and ensuring its existence for the future.

Thank you very much.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Mark Warawa

Thank you, Mr. Ugarenko.

Finally, we will hear from Nature Québec, and Sophie Gallais.

You have up to 10 minutes.

3:45 p.m.

Sophie Gallais Project Manager, Protected Areas, Nature Québec

Good afternoon.

First of all, I want to thank the chair and committee members for inviting us to submit a presentation on development of the national conservation plan.

To begin with, I will say a few words about our organization. Nature Québec is a provincial non-profit organization that has been in existence since 1981 and is committed to the objectives of the world conservation strategy of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. More specifically, our objectives are to maintain essential ecological processes and life support systems, to preserve genetic diversity and to ensure the sustainable utilization of species, ecosystems and natural resources.

I want to mention that the brief presentation I am going to make summarizes a few of our recommendations. However, we reserve the right to submit a brief at a later date to supplement this preliminary effort.

First, in Nature Québec's view, it is important that the national conservation plan (NCP) have a solid foundation and establish international-level conservation objectives. We recommend drawing on the International Union for Conservation of Nature for inspiration. We believe the purpose of this kind of conservation plan should be defined as being to conserve biodiversity of species, populations and ecosystems at both the local and national levels and to ensure ecologically sustainable and equitable use of natural resources.

As regards the goals of a national conservation program, here again it is important to abide by the obligations we have undertaken, particularly at Nagoya. On that point, I want to mention that, in October 2010, the various governments agreed to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2012 and the Aichi targets. We believe those 20 targets should form the basis of the national conservation plan. I will not take up 10 minutes to cite the 20 Aichi targets, but I will mention the goal categories into which they fall.

Strategic goal A is to address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society. Strategic goal B is to reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use. Strategic goal C is to improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity. Strategic goal D is to enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services. Lastly, strategic goal E is to enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building.

We believe that these Aichi targets, to which Canada has agreed, would form a good basis for developing the national conservation plan as it would be possible to achieve them by targeting more specifically through a national implementation.

What guiding principles should govern the national conservation plan? To meet these objectives, the guiding principles of the national conservation plan should be based on various measures. First, it is important to take action and adopt specific measures to preserve biodiversity. I will state a few such measures in a moment. It is important that investments be constantly made to promote scientific research in Canada by both federal and provincial departments and the universities. Canada must adopt sound environmental regulations contributing to the maintenance of biodiversity and maintain those regulations. Lastly, support must be provided for conservation initiatives.

We believe that partnerships are obviously essential to achieving all goals set. Synergies must be developed among government actions, actions by civil society and the various NGOs and actions by the industrial sector. Consequently, it is essential to support those conservation actions.

As regards conservation priorities, we recommend that the government draw on the various programs of the International Union for Conservation of Nature for inspiration. There is the species conservation program. We are experiencing a biodiversity crisis. We believe it is essential to address this problem on an urgent basis and to step up our efforts to maintain biodiversity, by addressing both species at risk through the Species at Risk Act, and the act governing fish habitat, which is also of particular interest for the preservation of biodiversity.

Marine conservation is also a conservation priority for us. Objectives of protecting 10% of marine areas have been set, particularly under the Aichi targets. It is essential for us to consider this priority and to work actively to reinforce our network of protected marine areas.

In water conservation, we believe that water quality and quantity management and cross-border water issues are important for Canada. It is important to promote integrated management for watershed resources. This water management method may enable us to achieve the desired results so that we can maintain the environmental goods and services that we provide in aquatic areas.

Forest conservation is a very important national issue for us. Canada's boreal forest is a unique ecosystem linking eastern and western Canada. We believe it is important to ensure that there is also a sound network of protected boreal areas and that forest and other natural resources in that biome be used in a sustainable manner.

More broadly speaking, it is important to look at all ecosystems, in both rural and urban areas, as well as wetlands, and to ask specific questions in order to promote the conservation of those environments.

Going back to protected areas, we believe this point is essential. It is important to establish a mechanism that provides us with enough protected areas to maintain biodiversity and assist nearby populations that can benefit from those lands.

With respect to priorities, conservation goes beyond these more tangible biodiversity issues. We must also consider issues related to climate change, renewable energy and a greener economy. These are all important issues that should be considered once we have developed this national conservation plan.

As regards implementation priorities for the NCP, the various levels of government must take action, particularly with regard to the network of protected areas. It is essential to consider this issue and to help achieve the objectives set at Nagoya, the Aichi targets, that is to say 10% of the marine environment and 17% of the land environment to be protected between now and 2020. We hope this priority will be conveyed through the national conservation plan.

Regulation is also a priority, whether it involves environmental assessment mechanisms or maintaining the act governing fish habitat and the Species at Risk Act. These are essential issues for us.

As I mentioned, another priority is support for conservation initiatives. It is essential to work in partnership, in cooperation, so that our various actions have a synergetic effect and we can at least make tangible conservation progress. Consequently, it is essential that we maintain the various federal funding programs, whether it be Environment Canada's Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk, the Community Interaction Program, the EcoAction Community Funding Program or the Invasive Alien Species Partnership Program. We believe these programs provide essential support for the various organizations operating in the field.

In conclusion, with regard to the consultation process that the minister should consider using to develop the national conservation plan, it is important to consult the various organizations at the national, provincial and local levels. Of course, not everyone can be heard, but a representative sample of those various levels would give us an idea of the needs and concerns of the people on the ground at the provincial and national levels. It is essential that the consultation help integrate those concerns at various levels.

The aboriginal communities are a specific issue and aboriginal populations must be consulted. Beyond our consultations, their priorities must be reflected in the national conservation plan.

That summarizes the various points that I had to present to you.

Once again, I want to thank you for listening. I now hand the floor back to you. Thank you very much.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Le président Mark Warawa

Thank you, Ms. Gallais.

We will begin our first round of questioning of seven minutes.

We will begin with Mr. Lunney for seven minutes.

April 26th, 2012 / 4 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I'd like to thank all of the witnesses for joining us today and for your excellent presentations. I'm sure you could keep us busy far beyond the time allotted to us today to ask questions arising from your suggestions.

I'd like to start with the Earth Rangers. Your focus is youth, and you hit on something. Part of your objective in the program is conserving and connecting people with the environment. We have a real challenge in Canada, where we have a vast land mass and a huge coastal area around us, but our population is increasingly concentrated in the urban areas and there are lots of young people growing up who are not as connected to nature as we were.

The three of us here grew up in Manitoba. We were just talking a while ago and found out that we all used to camp out along the Winnipeg River system and Otter Falls, and hung out in the same areas and knew the same old forest ranger and so on. Camping out and having those outdoor experiences is really very healthy, but a lot of Canadians are growing up without those experiences, so I'm very interested in your program of connecting people.

Just by way of your rangers, I want to ask about the number of children you're reaching out to. How long has your program been going on?

Both groups at this end mentioned new Canadians. This is something that I heard you say and it is a concern for us. We have a very large immigrant community coming in, new Canadians who have come from areas where they haven't had rich natural heritage that we have. This is something interesting that comes out of a discussion of how we can reach out and engage new Canadians in the conservation objectives and in appreciating the nature around us.

I just throw that out to those here, and to Sophie Gallais, if you want to comment on that, about reaching out to young people. How do we engage them? How can we expand programs that do help connect young people with outdoor programs?

4 p.m.

Mark Northwood President and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Earth Rangers

I'll start by saying that I think a very good idea is the Rouge Park, because that park is going to be very close to the GTA, where you have 3 to 3.5 million people. Having some parks closer to urban centres allows people to get out into the parkland that we know as Canada.

In Earth Rangers our program is about eight years old and we're seeing about 250,000 kids a year, 200,000 of whom we reach in schools and another 50,000 in community shows. What we do in Earth Rangers is that we actually take the nature to the kids. We have 40 live animal ambassadors that we take to schools. We create a bond between the kids and the animal at the school level, and then we use that bond to actually start to educate them. Our education continues with a program that's in schools, and then an afternoon program where we're doing some in-class education. We have about 55 million impressions on the YTV Network, as well, throughout the year, and that impression takes it into the homes and gets kids interested in nature at home as well.

It about going where the kids are. The kids are in schools, the kids are on TV, the kids are online, and we try to reach the children where the children are living these days.

4 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Okay, thank you.

Parks Canada has the My Parks program that helps engage grade 8 students in parks. We want them to get out and appreciate our national parks, which are a great heritage and treasure. But we're looking for other ways to engage people.

I'm a British Columbian. There are lots of programs there because there's lots of nature around us. British Columbia has lots of small regional parks. Most of them are not a huge land mass, but they're small, choice, excellent areas—waterfalls and beaches and so on—that have been preserved. So it's easier for our population to go get out, especially on Vancouver Island, and appreciate nature that way.

But how do we get our young people involved? And maybe somebody would like to take a stab at the immigrant community. How do we get our new Canadians engaged?

4:05 p.m.

President, Wildlife Habitat Canada

Len Ugarenko

At Wildlife Habitat Canada, we fund and support hunter-mentoring programs and programs where they take the children outside and give them a hands-on experience. We find that the hands-on experience stays with them and encourages them to continue participating. We'll have students going to a local club like the Long Point Waterfowlers' Association down on Lake Erie. They will spend a few days learning about dog training. They will learn about fishing and cleaning fish, and decoys. They will have a chance to fire guns. If they are old enough, they may go out duck hunting. They go on tours of wetlands. They get some biology. They get some legal training. Often we find that these kids, because of their hands-on experience, become so positive that they encourage their friends to do it hands-on. That breaks their cycle of sitting 9 to 13 hours a day in front of a television set, a computer, an iPod, and texting and doing whatever the heck they are doing.

As for new Canadians, we do have an extremely rich country here. You are right, in that as some come from countries that don't have conservation plans. Some don't understand what we have: It looks so big, but it is limited, and it's getting smaller and smaller. New immigrants would be encouraged if they got a handbook from the federal government. Put something in a handbook explaining the importance of conservation in Canada. A lot of my immigrant friends—and my family too were immigrants at one time—call me and say, “How do we connect?” Well, there are some wonderful organizations out there that run outdoor programs and list contact points for provincial or urban parks. There was a gentleman from Korea who actually started a program of getting Korean people out to Rouge Park to plant trees. It has been increasing and increasing.

If you have one spark, it can really ignite things. It doesn't take a lot of money or time. Think of the benefit coming back to the environment. Those trees being planted in the Rouge Park are taking in atmospheric carbon. They are supplying oxygen. They are improving human health. They are helping to stop erosion. If people understand that, they'll see that spending a few hours outside is a lot better than sitting inside. Overall, they're going to benefit.

With kids, you have probably heard of nature deficit disorder. It was a term coined by a gentleman in the United States. Lots of studies have shown that kids who spend time outdoors have reduced rates of diabetes, obesity, and physical and mental problems. They interact better socially. Their marks go up. Their health improves. Would it not be better to have a child outside instead of medicated? They go off their medication. All of these things have been documented and proven. I'd like to see these things continue, but more of them.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Mark Warawa

Thank you. The time has expired.

I just have one anecdote. In my riding of Langley, British Columbia, we have the national park called Fort Langley. It's a national historic site. They had a program last summer similar to what you have described where people had an opportunity to camp out at the park. It was a huge hit. It sold out right away. It was predominantly new Canadians who participated and experienced a bit of the outdoors.

Next, we have Mr. Choquette.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette Drummond, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thanks to the witnesses and Ms. Gallais.

I am pleased to see that you all more or less agree that the fight against climate change must be included in the national conservation plan. We cannot develop that plan if we are not first combatting climate change. There have to be very significant targets in that area.

Ms. Gallais, you mentioned the importance of regulation, among other things. Have you thought of any regulation priorities that would help in developing an effective national conservation plan?

4:10 p.m.

Project Manager, Protected Areas, Nature Québec

Sophie Gallais

There are a lot of important statutes, but regulations serve more to promote the sustainable use of resources. In addition to the protection of species, protected areas and so on, the sustainable use of resources is a very important component. We must ensure that the land's natural resources are managed in a manner that is respectful of our environment, and various statutes are important for that purpose. The act governing fish habitat is very important. We are concerned about maintaining that act, which helps preserve not only fish, but also fish habitat and the quality of the various waterways and marine environments. The Species at Risk Act is also very important. There are very important consultation processes concerning the various recovery programs implemented by Environment Canada. It is essential that those recovery programs be implemented, but greater effort must be made to implement them and to give the Species at Risk Act even more teeth.

The environmental assessment process is also very important. There are a lot of mining and energy development projects, such as oil projects in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and in western Canada. We want to exploit those resources, which often are non-renewable and have considerable impact on the environment. It is essential to ensure that the environmental assessment procedure for those projects is taken into consideration, together with the cumulative impact of those projects. We must find a way to assess projects on a case-by-case basis, but also have an idea of the overall impact of all those activities on the host environment, waterways and land environments. We believe these are the main essential points that must be addressed.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette Drummond, QC

You talked about sustainable development and said that it would be important for the national conservation plan to help educate people, to bring them closer to nature, but that we also have to align the economy with the environment. All too often, people say that environmentalists are extremists, but, on the contrary, we must align economic considerations with environmental ones.

You talked a little about the use of natural resources and how they could be integrated into a national conservation plan. How do you view that?