By Province of Manitoba
Apr. 22, 2013, Winnipeg, MB - Manitoba will be the first jurisdiction in North America to introduce legislation that would protect essential habitats for endangered plants and wildlife, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh said, marking Earth Day 2013.
The province will introduce legislative amendments that would create the Endangered Species and Ecosystem Act. The proposed Act would be the first legislation in North America to allow the listing of ecosystems as endangered or threatened and protect them on provincial Crown land.
The proposed amendments would also:
- Create a new designation called 'special concern' for species at risk of becoming threatened in Manitoba and requiring plans to prevent these species from further loss
- Expand the role of the Endangered Species Advisory Committee to provide recommendations on endangered or threatened ecosystems
- Add protection orders that empower conservation officials to pre-emptively stop activities that would endanger habitat and ecosystems
- Increase fines and penalties for violations under the legislation
Grazing is an important management practice to maintain healthy grassland ecosystems and populations of species at risk, such as buffalo grass and burrowing owls, and would not be affected by the new legislation.
In addition, the province is providing $500,000 in new funding to support the work of the Nature Conservancy of Canada. This contribution brings the province to $5 million of its commitment to provide $7 million for the Natural Areas Conservation Program to acquire and preserve ecologically significant lands in eight areas in southern Manitoba over 10 years. The province's contribution is being matched by both the federal government and the private sector meaning Manitoba habitats will benefit from approximately $21 million in conservation programming.
Recent priority projects include protecting several different vulnerable ecosystems including:
- Crown land at the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve in southeast Manitoba, the largest intact natural tall-grass prairie in the province containing several endangered and threatened species
- Approximately 9,700 acres (3,925 hectares) of alvar, a rare ecosystem with unique plants that grow in 10 centimetres or less of soil over limestone bedrock, in the Interlake