Governing council to oversee wildlife strategy rollout
The B.C. government has announced a plan for the conservation and stewardship of B.C.’s wildlife, with a governing council to oversee the strategy.
The Together for Wildlife strategy will bring diverse perspectives together to lead the province in making sound decisions for wildlife stewardship, stated an August 28 Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development media release.
The strategy comes as climate change and cumulative effects are increasingly putting pressure on wildlife populations and their habitats. It will link wildlife and habitat values to other stewardship initiatives and programs across government. This collaboration will prioritize wildlife conservation and help ensure shared objectives are achieved for wildlife and habitat.
“For many of us, the simple existence of wildlife is important, a fundamental value,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “Our rich natural diversity is inextricably linked to our way of life. We need to ensure that wildlife and their habitats are resilient as we face challenges like climate change.”
In 2018, government provided $1 million to support engagement to develop the strategy and $3 million in 2019 for continued engagement and early implementation of actions. In 2020, $10 million is provided to support the strategy’s ongoing implementation.
Moving forward, the strategy will be the basis of government’s actions toward wildlife, the ministry said.
It outlines a vision and principles that government will take, including 24 actions and five goals:
- All British Columbians have a voice in wildlife stewardship.
- Data, information and knowledge drive better decisions.
- Stewardship actions achieve tangible benefits for wildlife and their habitats.
- Accountability and transparency build trust and confidence.
- Collaborative wildlife stewardship advances reconciliation with Indigenous governments.
The strategy was developed with collaboration and input from Indigenous peoples, rural communities, academic institutions and a wide range of resource industry, conservation, hunter, trapper, guide, recreation and tourism stakeholder organizations, and more than 1,400 members of the public.
* establishes structures to bring diverse perspectives together;
* harnesses collective knowledge and gathers new information to prioritize work and make wise decisions;
* commits resources to invest into on-the-ground projects; and
* increases transparency and accountability to ensure the right decisions are making a difference for wildlife and the habitat they need.
A Minister’s Wildlife Advisory Council has been formed to oversee implementation of the strategy. The Kootenays are represented by Sheep Creek resident and long-time Wildsight member John Bergenske on the council.
The council will advise the minister on province-wide wildlife and habitat issues. It consists of people with demonstrated expertise on wildlife and habitat stewardship with a diversity of perspectives, such as First Nations, the public, local government, academia, natural resources and other industrial sectors, and conservation organizations.
“Wildlife is critical to the future of British Columbians and the Together for Wildlife Strategy provides the steps to take action. Thank you to the minister for putting his trust in all of us and to the esteemed British Columbians who have stepped forward to become part of the council. I am committed to ensuring the council becomes a publicly trusted, independent source of advice on the implementation of the Together for Wildlife strategy,” said Nancy Wilkin, co-chair of the Minister’s Wildlife Advisory Council.
Bill Bosch, president of the BC Wildlife Federation said, “Together for Wildlife outlines actions such as setting objectives for B.C.’s wildlife and their habitats, making decisions based on evidence and dedicating funding to make it all happen. These are actions that the BC Wildlife Federation has long promoted. As B.C.’s leading conservation organization, the BC Wildlife Federation will welcome an opportunity to work with B.C.’s government, First Nations and stakeholders to expedite the process of restoring, recovering and protecting B.C.’s wildlife and their habitats, with a focus on ‘meaningful on-the-ground work’ that is long overdue. The BC Wildlife Federation hopes this plan is an indication that B.C.’s government is committed to improving B.C.’s wildlife and wildlife habitat, including providing sufficient funding to deliver in a timely manner on the actions as outlined in Together for Wildlife.”
Matt Christensen, acting head of conservation programs, Ducks Unlimited Canada added, “This strategy is reflective of the complexity involved in stewarding B.C.’s diverse wildlife and rich habitats. The commitment to significant new investments, opportunity for dialogue, informed decision making and transparency will ensure its success. This strategy will play an important role in strengthening existing partnerships, like the Conservation Lands Partnership Program, and galvanizing new ones. We are excited to work with the province on its implementation to ensure important sensitive habitats, such as wetlands, are protected for the future of both people and wildlife.”
Scott Ellis, executive director, Guide Outfitters Association of BC noted, “Together for Wildlife is a great strategy to improve wildlife stewardship in British Columbia. The actions should result in better wildlife populations. The Guide Outfitters Association of BC is really pleased to see the provincial government honour its commitment to making wildlife a priority.”
e-KNOW file photo