Current Issues

Conservation Committee Report for BC Nature Magazine

Fall 2019

Your Conservation Committee met at the most excellent BC Nature AGM in Duncan in May, where we learned about the historical activities of the Committee from past chairs Anne Murray and Eva Durance, as well as some of Nature Canada’s perspectives from Executive Director Graham Saul. Notably, BC Nature, prior to the reign of the BC Liberal Party, had the ear of politicians and a significant role in policy shaping, especially in regard to our parks. Read Bev Ramey’s article in this issue for a history of BC Nature’s conservation work. Also, Ministers and Deputy Ministers regularly attended our Annual and Fall General Meetings. The Committee agreed that we would seek more meeting time with the appropriate ministers and staff about issues relevant to our members. At the same time, we plan to focus on campaigns initiated by us, asking other ENGO’s to join us, and spend less time “putting out fires”. We certainly still encourage you, BC Nature’s member clubs, to seek BC Nature’s support on issues of concern. However, we need you to do the groundwork, as this is the only way we can expand our capacity with our limited volunteer base. In other words, we urge member clubs to look into issues of concern to them before suggesting that the Conservation Committee do this. Then we will vet and put forward. In particular, we hope to give priority to addressing incipient issues so that we can be proactive rather than reactive. Government responses to BC Nature letters are often inadequate and need us to follow-up. The letters that BC Nature sends out and receives can be found under “Conservation” on the BC Nature website.


At the Duncan AGM, David Denning included a fact-filled, passionate appeal for personal action to combat climate change. At the end of his keynote address, he repeated, “I hope that I haven’t upset you”. And I’m sitting there thinking, “I hope that you did upset us!” Although each of our actions may count for little, our collective action does matter. And it feels good to do the right thing. Think of per/capita output: we Canadians produce 20.94 metric tons of CO2 per person, more than our southern neighbours’ 19.9. China: 8.72. Canada is the ninth-biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the world. We must transition to clean energy, as energy demand continues to rise. According to Natural Resources Canada, only 8 to 11% of Canadian energy production is currently “clean”. BC gets 19% from electricity according to the National Energy Board. The Paris Accord target for 2040 is 28% clean energy. The sectors most in need of urgent attention include oil and gas, transportation and buildings. Here is where government policy matters most, and where our personal actions are our votes. In late June, I attended a talk by economist Mark Jaccard, a professor in the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University and an advisor on energy policy to many governments. He urged the audience to assess politicians by their proposed policies rather than promised actions, since the actions to remediate climate change do not come from the politicians but arise from their policies. We have a federal election coming up.


On July 10, BCN sent a letter to Fisheries and Oceans Minister Wilkinson, proposing severe restrictions on salmon fishing. Kamloops Naturalists’ Frank Dwyer spearheaded the letter, with his concern for Steelhead. On July 11, 2019, the Governments of Canada and British Columbia, through the Pacific Region Species at Risk Program of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, announced “a comprehensive Steelhead Action Plan containing new conservation measures that will reduce mortality and increase survival of Thompson and Chilcotin Steelhead returning to rivers to spawn; improve freshwater conditions through habitat protection and restoration; and, increase science and monitoring activities.“ However, the Governor in Council (GiC) decided that not listing Thompson River and Chilcotin River Steelhead Trout under the Species at Risk Act would result in the “greatest overall benefits to current and future generations of Canadians and the conservation of these wildlife species.” You can read more at the news release, Action Plan backgrounder, and the Species at Risk Public Registry. In the same stream, the modernization of the Fisheries Act looks pretty good, emphasizing sustainability and science-based decisions (….what were they meant to be doing previously?).




Peter Ballin






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