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NEWS RELEASE · 31st May 2010
BC NDP Caucus
New Democrat environment critic Rob Fleming is hoping for bi-partisan support for the Species at Risk Protection Act – which would protect British Columbia’s endangered species and their habitat.

“It’s shameful that British Columbia is one of only two provinces in Canada without legislation to protect endangered species and their habitat,” said Fleming. “Given the fact that habitat loss is the single greatest cause of extinction - I hope all members of the legislature can come together to support this bill and protect our province’s most vulnerable species.”

Fleming cited recent research that shows B.C. is host to 76 per cent of Canada’s bird species, 70 per cent of its freshwater fish species, and 60 per cent of its conifer species- which makes protecting species in B.C. critical to maintaining the biodiversity of Canada as a whole.

“British Columbia is blessed by incredible natural resources, and it is up to us to protect them for generations to come,” said Fleming. "The United Nations has declared 2010 the international year of biodiversity - and B.C. should honour Canada’s signatory status by passing legislation to defend and restore the ecosystems that sustain our province's many species.”

The New Democrats' Species at Risk Protection Act is modeled on similar legislation introduced in Ontario, and includes measures to protect the critical habitat that threatened and endangered species like mountain caribou and marbled murrelets need to ensure their continued survival.

"In order to protect vulnerable plants and animals, we must protect their ecosystems. But our current provincial laws don’t do enough to protect the habitat of species at risk,” said Fleming. “Even in cases where scientists have clearly identified a habitat as critical for the survival of a species at risk, the B.C. Liberal government’s policies don't protect these critical ecosystems.”

There are up to 1600 species at risk in British Columbia, yet only 4 per cent are listed under existing provincial laws. Even when species are listed the provincial government usually fails to identify and protect critical habitat.

“We’ve wasted years waiting for the B.C. Liberal government to take action to protect species that are teetering on the brink of extinction,” said Fleming. “This legislation is squarely aimed at ending a decade of inaction and getting to work on this serious issue.”

Carole James and the New Democrats are fighting for an environmental plan that respects communities, creates green jobs, offers families positive choices and commits to concrete action to protect species at risk.