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Canadian Organizations

Environment Canada | Research and recommendations | Carrying out initiatives | Coordinating efforts

Responsibilities for protecting Canada's biodiversity fall on the shoulders of both the provincial, territorial and federal governments. Provincial governments deal with sites and issues within their own borders, while the federal government is responsible for trade that crosses borders, migratory birds, fish, marine animals and federally protected areas, such as national parks and wildlife preserves. This page looks at the agencies responsible for this work.

Information on the following Canadian governmental organizations is given by theme, based on the role of the organization. Generally speaking, organizations either do research and make recommendations on that research or create and carry out initiatives.

These are all federal organizations; provincial legislation and initiatives are too varied and numerous to be covered here, but more information on provincial programs can be found in the regional sections of Environment Canada.

Environment Canada

Environment Canada logoEnvironment Canada [link] is important and large enough to merit special attention. As one can guess by its name, this is the main governmental organization that deals with the environment. Environment Canada encompasses many roles. Its mandate is to preserve and improve air, water, and soil quality, conserve the country's natural resources and species (including non-domestic species), predict weather, and coordinate the federal government's environmental policies and programs. It divides the country into five regions (Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairies & Northern, and Pacific & Yukon) to allow it to pursue its mandate while taking into account regional differences. It currently has approximately 4700 employees and a half billion dollar annual budget to carry out its mission.

Many organizations are part of Environment Canada and carry out its mandate, including the Canadian Wildlife Service, Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network and the Canadian Biodiversity Information Network, to name a few. More details about these organizations are given below.

Research and Recommendations

Before legislation is passed or initiatives are undertaken, details about the problem and the best means to solve it must be known. The following organizations perform research and provide recommendations for actions to be taken. Their reports help shape the legislation that help preserve biodiversity.

Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network (EMAN) [link]
EMAN logoPart of Environment Canada, the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Network (EMAN) coordinates monitoring and research in over 100 sites across Canada. Each monitoring site is already used for research, and sites within ecozones are grouped together. EMAN's goals are to provide an early warning of environmental problems and identify new problems as soon as they arise, provide scientifically valid reasons for conservation recommendations, and evaluate the effectiveness of current conservation programs.

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) [link]
COSEWIC logoThe Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), is created to provide a centralized, official, and science-based body to designate species at risk. COSEWIC operates at an arm's length from government to ensure that its listing process is independent. Its listing of species as being at risk does not lead to actions automatically being taken. Instead, its findings are treated as recommendations.

The Canadian Species at Risk report is updated annually, and the May 2001 report lists 352 species, subspecies and populations as being at risk.

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) [link]
CEAA logoCharged with carrying out the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) invests in research and development that leads to better environmental assessment, investigates how to best carry out assessments, and gets the public involved in the consultation process.

Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) [link]
CWS logoPart of Environment Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Service primarily coordinates and carries out initiatives (see below), but also performs research on wildlife biology, especially the effects of pollution on wildlife.

Natural Resources Canada [link]
This organization is more economically-centred than the others listed here. It deals with Canada's natural resources and how those resources can best profit the country. Naturally, any exploitation of natural resources has repercussions for conservation, and Natural Resources Canada researches ways in which the impacts of the development and exploitation of Canada's natural resources can be minimized.

Carrying Out Initiatives

Once informed conservation decisions have been made, these are the federal organizations that carry out the initiatives and accords. Each has jurisdiction over a particular physical area or type of species. When needed, coordination between these organizations is facilitated by particular agencies; see below for more details).

Parks Canada [link]
PC logoParks Canada is part of Heritage Canada. Its mandate is in part to protect Canada's natural heritage and to encourage the public to enjoy and preserve this heritage. It carries out some research in Canada's National Parks, largely inventories, but much of its resources are devoted to maintaining its parks in a healthy state.

Canadian Wildlife Service [link]
CWS logoPart of Environment Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Service handles national wildlife issues, including migratory birds and other wildlife, endangered species, and preserving natural habitat. The Canadian Wildlife Service is a founding member of COSEWIC, active in RENEW, and responsible for implementing CITES in Canada, to name a few of its duties and accomplishments.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans [link]
DFO logoThe Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is responsible for policies and programs that affect Canada's interests in marine and fresh water. Its emphasis leans towards the economic, but management of fisheries resources, protection of the aquatic environment, and research all require interest in conservation.

Marine Ecosystems Conservation Branch [link]
The Marine Ecosystems Conservation Branch's (MECB) (part of DFO) mandate is to implement the Oceans Act. Its responsibilities include developing and managing Marine Protected Areas, developing an integrated management program to protect marine resources, and developing and managing a marine environmental quality program.

Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council [link]
The Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) was formed in 1998 by Wildlife Ministers from the Government of Canada, provinces and territories under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk in Canada. The Council is made up of federal, provincial and territorial ministers with responsibilities for wildlife species. This includes Canada's minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the minister responsible for Parks Canada. The Council's mandate includes specific responsibilities for the listing and recovery of species at risk, as well as a role in resolving disputes under the Accord.

Coordinating Efforts

Because provincial, territorial, federal and non-governmental organizations have much the same conservation aims and often deal with the same problem at the same time, much overlap of efforts and redundant actions are possible. Agencies exist which help to coordinate these efforts and make them as efficient as possible, three of which are described below.

Biodiversity Convention Office [link]
Canada's adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity requires an agency to coordinate putting the Convention into practice in the country, and that is the function of the Biodiversity Convention Office. The Biodiversity Convention Office is part of the Canadian Wildlife Service, and thus part of Environment Canada.

Canadian Biodiversity Information Network [link]
CBIN logoThe Canadian Biodiversity Information Network (CBIN) is Canada's node in the International Clearing House Mechanism for the Convention on Biological Diversity. It serves to provide a central hub for documents and information related to biodiversity. Links will be submitted to the site by individual organizations, allowing for more complete and up-to-date information than if the CBIN itself were to try to discover all the information on its own.

Recovery of Nationally Endangered Wildlife [link]
RENEW logoRecovery of Nationally Endangered Wildlife (RENEW) is actually a program rather than an agency that coordinates joint efforts between federal, provincial, territorial and non-governmental agencies to protect species designated by COSEWIC as being at risk. RENEW's emphasis is on terrestrial vertebrates, although a few plants and an ecosystem have also been included.The agencies that are involved still maintain responsibility within their own jurisdictions.


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