Groups say BC is the "last place on earth" without endangered species
VANCOUVER, Oct. 29 /CNW/ - Four of British Columbia's leading
environmental groups launched a major campaign today calling for provincial
endangered species legislation, and taking a poke at the province's brand as
the "best place on earth," unveiling a re-worked version of the government's
official logo, featuring unhappy endangered species.
Endorsed by a growing list of prominent Canadians including rocker Sam
Roberts, and guest speakers, Whistler Mayor, Ken Melamed and Kai Chan, Canada
Research Chair in Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services at UBC, the campaign
seeks to reconcile BC's identity as the "best place on earth" with its true
identity as one of the last places on earth without an endangered species law.
"A voluntary approach to species protection is simply not working: BC
needs an endangered species law," said Ken Melamed, Mayor of Whistler. "As the
Mayor of a community that will be in the international spotlight in 2010, I
want to be able to tell the world that our province is leading the world on
this important file. We need the same leadership on endangered species that
the government has shown in its efforts to tackle climate change."
The Union of BC Municipalities at its recent convention passed a
resolution calling on the provincial government to enact stand-alone
endangered species legislation.
"More than four dozen species have disappeared from our province, and the
casualty list is growing in length and urgency," said Dr. Faisal Moola,
Director of Science for the David Suzuki Foundation. "With more biodiversity
than any other province, BC is an ark for wildlife, but until we have
regulation in the form an endangered species law, that ark is sinking fast."
To help make their case, the groups have released a report and launched a
website titled, "The Last Place on Earth" (www.lastplaceonearth.ca) detailing
BC's loss of biodiversity and making concrete recommendations for the
development of endangered species legislation.
"For years scientists and conservation groups have been ringing alarm
bells about the worsening biodiversity crisis in BC," said Candace Batycki,
Director of Forest Programs for ForestEthics. "Our polling and focus groups
have repeatedly shown that British Columbians are not only passionate about
this issue but that they are shocked and embarrassed when they find out that
BC doesn't have an endangered species law."
"We have seen what is happening to our killer whales due to lack of
action," said Gwen Barlee of the Wilderness Committee. "We have over
1600 species at risk in BC, and if we want to have grizzly bears and badgers
in our future BC needs to step up to the plate and introduce an endangered
species law - a law that is science based and that will actually protect
habitat and recover species."
"Compared with every other industrialized nation and region in the world,
BC sticks out like a sore thumb for not having an endangered species law,"
said Sean Nixon, a staff lawyer with Ecojustice. "We have the richest
biodiversity in Canada, and no law to protect it."
British Columbia has the richest biodiversity of any Canadian province.
It is home to 76 percent of Canada's bird species, 70 percent of its
freshwater species and thousands of other animals and plants. Well over
3,600 species call BC home, and many of these, such as the mountain goat and
mountain caribou, live mostly - or only - in the province. Unfortunately, BC's
biological wealth is under severe stress. A recent analysis found that
1,640 species, ranging from phantom orchids to Vancouver Island marmots -
43 percent - are currently at risk.
B-roll and high-resolution stills of endangered species and the "Last
Place on Earth" logo are available to the media upon request.
For further information:
For further information: Candace Batycki, Director of Forest Programs,
ForestEthics, (604) 219-7457 (cell); Dr. Faisal Moola, Director of Science,
David Suzuki Foundation, (604) 512-5788 (cell); Gwen Barlee, Policy Director,
Wilderness Committee, (604) 202-0322 (cell) or (604) 683-8220 (work); Sean
Nixon, Staff Lawyer, Ecojustice, (604) 685-5618