International organizations and agreements




Canadian Legislation

This is only a small sample of the agreements, accords, and other legislation that Canada has passed and signed regarding diversity. Early legislation tended to focus on resolving political disputes and ensuring that the economic benefits derived from nature were not lost due to human activities. Only fairly recently has legislation begun to change to accept the importance of diversity and nature in a larger ecological sense as well as being important in and of itself.

Legislation, agreements and accords

1885 Banff National Park established by Order in Council
Canada's first National Park and the world's third, Banff National Park was created as a wilderness recreation park and vacation spa, but its guidelines did not contain any explicit conservation function.

1973 Canada Wildlife Act [link]
This act authorizes the acquisition of land by the federal government for the purpose of creating National Wildlife Areas; refuges under protection from habitat disturbance and hunting. This act also allows for marine areas to be recognized and protected. By 1996, 48 NWA's had been established, protecting about 489 332 hectares of habitat

1988 Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) [link]
CEPA is an amalgam of several acts concerning environmental standards, protection, and penalties for violation. It deals primarily with regulation of pollution.

1988 RENEW [link]
The REcovery of Nationally Endangered Wildlife program is a strategy which outlines measures for the recovery of endangered species and the prevention of the worsening of the condition of currently threatened or non-endangered species. The emphasis is on terrestrial vertebrates, although a few plants and an ecosystem have also been included. (www.ec.gc.ca/press/sar4_b_e.htm).

1990 Wildlife Policy for Canada [link]
This piece of legislation was a major step in a new way of looking at conservation, by emphasizing the maintenance and restoration of biodiversity and ecological processes, rather than the more common piecemeal conservation approaches that had been emphasized.

1991 Canadian Biodiversity Convention Advisory Group [link]
Now known as the Canadian Biodiversity Forum, this group made up of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other representatives provides advice to the federal government on biodiversity issues. It was originally established to advise the government on the negotiation of an international biodiversity conservation convention.

1992 Statement of Commitment to Complete Canada's Network of Protected Areas [link]
This document was signed by federal and provincial governments, confirming Canada's commitment to establish a network of national protected areas representing each of Canada's 39 ecological regions. To achieve this goal, 14 new parks must be created, and the total land area designated as Federal Protected Areas must be brought to 3% of the country.

1992 The National Forest Strategy [link]
laid out a plan for completion of an ecological classification of forest lands, completion of a network of protected areas representative of Canada's forests, establishing forest inventories; and development of a system of national indicators of sustainable forest management.

1994-Canadian Biodiversity Science Assessment
The Canadian Biodiversity Science Assessment evaluated the state of biodiversity, the impact of human activity, and the adequacy of protected areas in Canada. This was to discover what was needed for the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy, which Canada was to produce as part of its obligation under the Convention on Biodiversity. The conclusions of the Assessment shaped the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy.

1994 Migratory Birds Convention Act (MBCA) [link]
This act prevents the commercialization of migratory birds by hunting and trafficking, and allows the federal government to establish Migratory Bird Refuges in areas of importance to birds, protecting them from the threat of habitat destruction and overhunting.

1995 Canadian Biodiversity Strategy [link]
As part of Canada's commitments under the Convention on Biodiversity, the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy was produced by a working group including federal, provincial, and territorial governments, academics, industry representatives and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The Strategy is a guide to carrying out Canada's commitments under the Convention on Biodiversity. It lays out a plan to a) conserve biodiversity and promote sustainable use of resources, b) improve our understanding and management of ecosystems c) develop incentives and legislation to support the conservation of biodiversity, and d) educate about the need to conserve biodiversity.

1995 Canadian Environmental Assessment Act [link]
This act was passed to ensure that rigorous environmental assessment would be performed for projects carried out by the federal government or Crown corporations and that the assessment would include public consultation.

1996 Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act [link]
WAPPRIITA, the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act, enforces stricter control over the illegal trade of wildlife and plants and bans commercial trade of endangered species. This act defines Canada's commitment to the principles of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

1996 Bill C-65 introduced [link]
This bill, which would have been Canada's first law to protect endangered and threatened species, did not pass. Concerns over the bill included a lack of provision for species on private lands, and the fact that the bill would have given the cabinet the ability to override the recommendations of COSEWIC, allowing political issues to enter into the species designation process.

1996 National Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk [link]
This accord was agreed to in principle by federal and provincial ministers, and commits the different levels of government to implementing legislation and programs that act to protect endangered species and their habitats.

1997 Canada Oceans Act [link]
This act recognized an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which extends for 200 nautical miles off Canadian coasts, encompassing almost five million square kilometers of ocean. Within the EEZ Canada may enforce its rights and responsibilities over exploration and exploitation of living and nonliving resources. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans may develop and implement initiatives to support sustainable development, and manage marine resources. In addition, the Minister may establish Marine Protected Areas and enforce Marine Environmental Quality guidelines.

2000 Report of the Panel on the Ecological Integrity of Canada's Parks [link]
The panel's findings were grim; Canada's parks are under attack from threats within and outside their boundaries, and their ecological integrity is severely compromised.

2000 Minister's response to the Report of the Panel on the Ecological Integrity of Canada's Parks [link]
Partially in response to the report of the Panel on the Ecological Integrity of Canada's Parks, The federal government introduced amendments to the Canada National Parks Act, reconfirming the importance of the goal of ecological integrity in parks management.

2000 Species at Risk Act (SARA) [link]
This act was killed when the election call was made in October 2000. The Species at Risk Act would have not only directly protected species at risk, but also their habitat. SARA would have provided for scientific assessment of the status of species through an organization (COSEWIC) operating at arm's length from the federal government and would have applied to all lands in Canada. Responsibility for the Act would have fallen to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans for aquatic species, the Minister of Heritage for species in National Parks, and Environment Canada for all other species and habitats.


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