Awakening to the spirit and beauty of the northern Great Plains
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Landmark court ruling on Canada's endangered species
Recently, I agreed to take a volunteer position with Nature Saskatchewan, an environmental organization that defends Saskatchewan's wild places and creatures. As the new conservation director, I help the organization on issues where we have to speak out against habitat loss or activities that threaten important ecosystems or species at risk. One of the more intreseting issues Nature Sask has been working on over the last year or more involves a cooperative effort with other environmental groups to get the Federal Government to follow their own legislation and take action to protect endangered species. Ever since the Species at Risk Act was passed in 2003, the Federal Government has been neglecting its legislated responsibility for endangered species, using the limitations of science as an excuse for their inaction as more and more critical habitat becomes degraded or destroyed.
Last year, Nature Sask joined an environmental umbrella group, along with the Alberta Wilderness Association, the Federation of Alberta Naturalists, the Grasslands Naturalists, and the Alberta Wilderness Committee to work with Ecojustice, Canada’s leading non-profit organization of lawyers and scientists devoted to protecting the environment. On behalf of Nature Sask. and the other environmental groups, Ecojustice took the Federal government to court for not protecting the Greater Sage-Grouse from habitat loss.
On July 9th, the court made its decision. A federal court judge in Vancouver ruled that the federal Minister of the Environment, Jim Prentice, broke the law by refusing to identify critical habitat in a recovery plan for the endangered greater sage-grouse.
This is a clear and decisive victory for the protection of species at risk in Canada, forcing the government to take steps to stop the destruction of critical habitat for the Sage-grouse. By implication, the decision will also help groups argue for the protection of habitat for many other species in Canada. Good things like this happen when environmentalists work together. We should all be grateful for the work Ecojustice is doing and consider making a donation.