CANADA: In a region where the crucial old-growth forest is expected to undergo further clearcutting, Canada’s environment minister intends to use a rare emergency order to safeguard the last of an endangered owl species called ‘spotted owl’.
The environmental groups Ecojustice and the Wilderness Committee said on Thursday afternoon that Steven Guilbeault had told them that the spotted owl was facing “imminent threats to its survival” and that he would use his power to stop more habitat destruction in British Columbia.
In the news release, campaigner for the Wilderness Committee Joe Foy said, “I can feel a celebration around the corner, but things have never been more dire for the spotted owl, and this emergency order is desperately needed now.”
According to the Wilderness Committee, there were nearly 1,000 spotted owls in the old-growth forests of southwest British Columbia before commercial logging.
The last wild-born northern spotted owl is now extinct. Two more were just recently released into the wild as a result of a breeding program. According to Ecojustice, the British Columbia government revealed its spotted owl recovery strategy in 2006, but the populations have not increased as a result. This is primarily because the state failed to identify important owl habitats.
The federal environment minister decided that logging must stop in an area of the Spô’zêm Nation land that includes the Spuzzum and Utzlius watersheds and another 2,500 hectares of at-risk forest habitat.
Only three times in the past 20 years have emergency powers under Canada’s species-at-risk legislation been used, according to Guilbeault’s decision. The western chorus frog in Quebec and the greater sage-grouse in Alberta were both saved thanks to previous purchases.
For the emergency order to go into effect, the federal cabinet must agree with Guilbeault’s suggestion after talking to the First Nations who will be affected by it.
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