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  • Draft of a biodiversity and ecosystem health framework released by BC ministry

    Evergreen Alliance Staff

    The Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship issued the following press release today:

    B.C. prioritizing ecosystem health, biodiversity
    VICTORIA - The Province is taking more steps to conserve nature for the long-term health and well-being of communities with the release of a draft biodiversity and ecosystem health framework.
    “People in B.C. share a deep connection to nature, from our ancient forests and diverse wildlife, to our coastal waters and mountain ranges,” said Nathan Cullen, Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship. “Together, we are charting the next steps for conserving B.C.’s rich biodiversity and healthy ecosystems that support us all.”
    B.C. has the greatest diversity of species, ecosystems and habitats of any jurisdiction in Canada. The resilience of the province depends on an integrated and inclusive approach to stewarding B.C.’s water, land and natural resources.
    The framework is another action the Province is taking as part of ongoing work to improve stewardship of B.C.’s lands, forests and water, to implement the recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review and to honour B.C.’s commitments under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
    “Our government is building comprehensive and integrated initiatives to protect the environment, including conservation financing, our accelerated action to protect old-growth forests and our commitment to conserve 30% of B.C.’s land base by 2030,“ Cullen said. “All these efforts are fundamental to protecting against the worst effects of climate change and creating a healthier future for everyone.”
    The draft framework was developed through engagement throughout 2023 with First Nations and other parties, including industry, non-governmental organizations, local communities, municipal leaders and academia.
    The Province is formally consulting with First Nations Rights and Title Holders, and engaging with multiple natural resource sectors and industry, as well as local governments, and other partners on the draft framework.
    Members of the public can access the draft framework here:
    Provide comments by contacting: biodiversity.ecosystemhealth@gov.bc.ca
    The framework is expected to be finalized in early 2024, following consultation. B.C. will co-develop new or update existing legislation to achieve the vision and intent of the framework.
    Garry Merkel, co-author, Old Growth Strategic Review -
    “The biodiversity and ecosystem health framework provides a clear strategy for establishing the management and conservation of ecosystem health and biodiversity as an overarching priority for British Columbia. Achieving this priority will result in a new stewardship approach for land and water, which, in turn, requires an essential prerequisite - a deep change in our thinking about land. This paradigm shift that will be accelerated by the implementation of this framework and will help guide us toward a much more certain and stable social and economic relationship with lands, waters and the resources that they provide.”
    Chief Harry F. Nyce Sr., co-chair, Minister’s Wildlife Advisory Council (MWAC) -
    “The Minister’s Wildlife Advisory Council endorses the draft biodiversity and ecosystem health framework for British Columbia. This visionary and collaborative initiative underscores the importance of adopting a co-ordinated, inclusive approach to conserving ecosystem health and biodiversity in our province. The draft framework serves B.C.’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and highlights the urgent need for a transformative paradigm shift toward shared decision-making, fostering a sustainable, equitable and resilient future.”
    Nancy Wilkin, co-chair, Minister’s Wildlife Advisory Council -
    “MWAC has been involved in shaping this framework and commends the ministry’s commitment to transparency, co-operation and adaptive, ecosystem-based management and stewardship - all of which are vital in our journey toward a healthy environment, stable communities and prosperous economies. MWAC looks forward to continued involvement as the framework’s detailed implementation plan and enabling legislation are developed.”
    George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy -
    “Ecosystem health and biodiversity are deeply connected to our own well-being. We are proud to work with our federal partners and the First Nations Leadership Council on this initiative as we protect beautiful British Columbia.”
    Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests -
    “Forests are at the heart of our identity here in B.C., and essential to a thriving and diverse ecosystem. We are using the best science and data available, and collaborating with First Nations, local communities, and industry to create stronger, more sustainable forest stewardship. This new framework is another step to enhance our forests and natural systems for the generations to come.”
    Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation -
    “The work we are doing together with First Nations to develop a biodiversity and ecosystems framework centres upon listening and learning from those who have been stewards of the environment for generations. The framework also responds to a key action item in our Declaration Act Action Plan.”
    Anne Kang, Minister of Municipal Affairs -
    “The conservation of our ecosystems and biodiversity is essential for the health and well-being of communities. That’s why my ministry’s commitment extends not only to investing in locally owned infrastructure, enhancing services for communities, but also to making sure provincial investments safeguard our clean air, land and water resources.”
    Learn More:
    For information about this work and to read the draft framework, visit the biodiversity and ecosystem health framework website: 

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    Guest Wilderness Committee


    The Wilderness Committee sent out the following news release in response to Minister Nathan Cullen's announcement:

    New BC biodiversity framework positive but law to protect species is needed

    Long-delayed legislation and lack of new interim measures mean harm to wildlife continues

    VICTORIA / UNCEDED LEKWUNGEN TERRITORIES — The BC NDP government released a long-anticipated draft framework on biodiversity and ecosystem health for First Nations and public consultation today; it’s a step towards a final plan to prioritize ecosystems in all legislation for all sectors in the province. The Wilderness Committee welcomes this potentially significant measure toward addressing gaps in B.C.’s environmental laws. The group warns, however, that these draft frameworks, plans and consultations are all happening while habitat is being destroyed and species are being pushed toward extinction.

    “We need a law to protect species and ecosystems that are at risk,” said Conservation and Policy Campaigner Charlotte Dawe. “The longer government delays on delivering a law, the harder it will be to tackle the biodiversity crisis and its devastating impacts in B.C., especially with no immediate interim measures to safeguard the most vulnerable ecosystems and species.”

    The Wilderness Committee is reviewing and assessing the draft framework but is initially happy to see the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems will be prioritized above resource extraction and other development across all sectors and ministries and that this will be reflected in legislation co-developed with First Nations titleholders. 

    The organization is concerned the lack of a specific commitment to an overarching law to protect species and their habitats means it could be left out. The vague framing of “ecosystem health” leaves the door open for logging, mining and oil and gas projects that destroy or degrade habitat and threaten biodiversity. 

    Following a 2017 campaign promise to enact endangered species legislation, the BC government launched a consultation process and engaged stakeholders across all sectors before walking away from the commitment in 2018.

    “We’ve been on this ride with this government before, and we know logging and mining companies will again be lobbying hard to protect the status quo,” Dawe said. “The BC NDP is promising to do better, promising this time will be different, but they need to put this framework into action and truly put biodiversity ahead of corporate interests.”

    The Wilderness Committee has been advocating for a law to protect species at risk in B.C. for more than two decades. Tens of thousands of people have called on the provincial government to pass this legislation. The group says a strong law would be enforceable, free of loopholes, account for cumulative effects on at-risk species and respect the sovereignty of Indigenous titleholders. The timeline released by the government today states an implementation plan will be released along with the finalized framework next spring. The Wilderness Committee expects to hear concrete steps the government will take to implement a new law then.

    The draft framework released today is a result of the Old Growth Strategic Review, which included prioritizing ecosystem health and biodiversity as the second recommendation in its groundbreaking report in 2020.

    “The old-growth review recommendations had a three-year timeline — those three years are gone, and the BC NDP is only just now releasing a draft framework to make biodiversity and ecosystems a priority,” said Associate Director Torrance Coste. “These delays have deadly consequences, and species like the spotted owl and southern mountain caribou are being pushed to the brink of extinction while the government continues to ‘talk and log.’”

    The Wilderness Committee will be preparing its submissions in the coming weeks. It will continue to work with other organizations, First Nations and the public to push for a strong law to protect species and ecosystems across the province. 

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    The most important part of this "potentially significant" Govt. announcement is of course the commentary provided by the Wilderness Committee, since "these draft frameworks, plans & consultations are all happening while habitat is being destroyed & species are being pushed toward extinction."  I.e. it's meaningless unless acted on with the urgency spelled out by Coste & Dawe, to avoid further deadly consequences - most obvious & pressing of which are out-of-control wildfires proven to be spread (if not caused directly) by the criminal clearcutting/spraying of healthy forests:  THAT emergency must be prioritized as a key impetus for timely implementation of new measures, by Spring at the latest, before a repeat of last year's 'wildfire season'.

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