Canada's Environment Minister Calls for National Roundtable on Polar Bears
Will bring Environmental Groups, Inuit and First Nations, Province
INUVIK, NWT, August 28, 2008 - Canada's Environment Minister John Baird today announced he will convene a national roundtable later this year dedicated to the conservation and protection of Canada's polar bear population.
"As I have said before, our Government believes that the polar bear is an iconic symbol of Canada," said Minister Baird. "Clearly, we need to ensure that the polar bear does not become endangered or threatened in Canada."
"At the same time, we have a constitutional duty to work with a number of groups like the Inuit on protecting the polar bear, we can also learn from traditional aboriginal and Inuit knowledge. That's why I am calling a national roundtable of key stakeholders by the end of November 2008. This will bring together environmental groups, the Inuit and First Nations, provinces and territories, and other experts in one place to chart Canada's course on protecting this majestic animal."
Minister Baird's commitment comes as the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) issued its detailed scientific polar bear assessment, part of COSEWIC's 2008 Annual Report. The arm's length, independent scientific committee continues to assess polar bears as a species of "Special Concern," the same designation they've held since 1991.
"COSEWIC's work is vital to our understanding of the challenges ahead," said Minister Baird. "Their scientific work shows that while there are many encouraging signs for most sub-populations, there are others that need help. The time to act is now."
COSEWIC assesses the status of the wildlife in Canada, based on the best scientific, community and Aboriginal knowledge available. Certain Environment Canada scientists are members of COSEWIC and provide science expertise for the development of these assessments.
The national roundtable proposed by Minister Baird would bring together key players to consider the science of COSEWIC and traditional Northern knowledge. This meeting will take place by the end of November 2008. Minister Baird strongly believes that by working cooperatively now, we can protect polar bears across the full range of their habitat for generations to come.
"I also want to be clear that a previous government had the opportunity to take action to protect the polar bear in 2005," said Minister Baird. "At that time, COSEWIC made the same ruling that the bear was an issue of special concern. However, instead of taking action the Minister did not want to have to make a decision and sent the matter back for three more years of study. That was a failure of leadership, one this Government will not repeat."
Source: Environment Canada
MANITOBA SPRING FLOOD OUTLOOK IMPROVES AS A RESULT OF RECENT WEATHER Significant Flooding in Red River Valley Still Expected
Manitoba Water Stewardship's Hydrologic Forecast Centre has evaluated conditions in the province and an updated spring flood outlook indicates that mild weather is resulting in a slow, steady melt about two weeks earlier than ....
GOV. RITTER ANNOUNCES ACCELERATION OF SMALL HYDRO PROJECTS IN COLORADO Gov. Bill Ritter today announced that Colorado has signed a significant agreement with the federal government that will make it far easier to develop small hydropower projects.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ....