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VANCOUVER — The B.C. government's announcement that it has set up a Species at Risk Task Force is welcome news, according to the David Suzuki Foundation. The foundation is also pleased that it has been asked to participate in the working group that will look at species-protection provisions in British Columbia, including possible changes to the current regulatory framework and environmental management practices.

The government announced in its throne speech in August 2009 that it would set up the task force and released details about membership and terms of reference on Thursday.

"Our intent in working on this task force is to represent the views of scientists and environmentalists who have a strong concern for the continued loss of habitat for hundreds of endangered species in this province," said David Suzuki Foundation CEO Peter Robinson, who is one of the 10 task force members. "Without healthy ecosystems and species diversity, we can't hope to have healthy economies and communities."

David Suzuki Foundation Terrestrial Conservation and Science Program director Faisal Moola said that overhauling B.C.'s fragmented and piecemeal protections for endangered wildlife is long overdue. "B.C. and Alberta are the only two Canadian provinces without species at risk legislation, even though B.C. is a hotspot of endangered plants and animals in Canada," he said. "Scientists believe that more than 43 per cent of B.C.'s wildlife is in decline or under threat of disappearing — including orcas, caribou and rare grassland flowers — mainly because of habitat loss."

The Foundation also applauded the introduction of a private member's bill by the New Democratic Party on May 31 that dealt specifically with species at risk. "We hope this bill will be considered in light of the government's commitment to strengthen measures to protect and assist in the recovery of species at risk in British Columbia," Dr. Moola said. "It's time we recognized that the environment is not just a source of timber and minerals but also of critical ecosystem services that sustain the health and well-being of our communities, including clean air and water, wildlife habitat and productive soil."

The David Suzuki Foundation has a long history of working to ensure that species at risk in Canada are protected through the creation and implementation of strong provincial and federal laws. The foundation will advocate for strong recommendations at the Task Force table that are based on best practices from other jurisdictions, including protection and recovery of species at risk using the best available science as well as First Nations traditional knowledge, ensuring that the rights of First Nations are recognized, and protecting and recovering biodiversity by protecting habitat.

For more information, contact:
Faisal Moola, Director, Terrestrial Conservation and Science, 647-993-5788
Ian Hanington, Communications Specialist, (604) 732-4228, X 1238

June 11, 2010