Environmental advocates are suing the federal government for new rules to protect the habitat of endangered shorebirds known as shorebirds.
Ecojustice Canada, representing the Nova Scotia Federation of Naturalists and the East Coast Environmental Law Association, filed a lawsuit on October 31 seeking judicial review of the Habitat Conservation Strategy developed by Environment Minister Steven Guilbeau.
The lawsuit alleges that Ottawa previously submitted a recovery strategy to protect plovers, explaining that it complies with the federal Endangered Species Act. We have identified all 212 beaches straddling the Atlantic Ocean and Quebec as important habitats for small sand-colored birds.
But a revised strategy announced in September changed the way critical habitats are identified, the lawsuit alleges.
“The minister has adopted a ‘bounding box’ approach to identifying critical habitats that has failed to articulate the locations and boundaries of critical habitats for plovers,” the statement said. “Instead, the modified recovery strategy uses grid quadrilaterals to map locations containing critical habitats, and not as each quadrilateral as a whole, but rather as a specific, vaguely described biophysics.” Identifies it as a region within a rectangle that has the “
ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE Canada said in an email that it was “extremely committed” to responding to questions about the litigation and was “in the process of consulting with experts.”
Ecojustice attorney Sarah McDonald said the 2012 Plover Recovery Strategy did a “very good job” of identifying critical habitats, and that the need to protect entire beaches was “not enough.” It was very clear,” he said. The strategy identified beaches by name and Global Positioning System coordinates, she said.
But the modified version makes changes that weaken its effectiveness, she argued.
“Instead of saying that the entire beach is a critical habitat, they are now setting up what they call grid squares, square kilometers of squares that cover these beaches,” MacDonald said.
“Various stretches of coastline remain vulnerable to activities such as housing development and pollution that are known to be detrimental to plovers and their habitat.”
The lawsuit calls the ministry’s decision unjustified and incomprehensible. “
“The modified recovery strategy does not identify critical habitats with the greatest possible or geographic precision,” the claiming statement said. “Furthermore, the description of critical habitats in the revised recovery strategy is too much to support the Minister’s mandate to protect critical habitats or to support enforceable legal protections for them. is also ambiguous, which undermines SARA’s ability to provide meaningful protection.”
McDonald said the group hopes the court will revoke some of the new recovery strategies and revert to the original version.
The plover is a small bird found only in North America and has two subspecies. One breeds on the Canadian prairie and the other on the Atlantic coast.
They were listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 2003, according to the lawsuit. became.
The lawsuit alleges that human activities such as housing and urban development, pollution from industrial activities, and mining and quarrying pose serious and ongoing threats to the plover’s habitat.
Bob Bancroft, president of Nature Nova Scotia, says plovers are attracted to naturally-induced disturbances on the beaches where they live.
“Plovers like to nest in disordered areas with pebbles, gravel and sand,” he said. “(Recent post-tropical storm) Fiona-like events occur after the breeding season, and the following spring, depending on how a particular beach is oriented and how much it has been disturbed, the areas affected will be affected.” of he chooses one.”
McDonald agrees, noting that plover habitats change with disruption, and that entire beaches need to be protected to allow birds to follow their natural nesting instincts safely. said.
“[Having specific protected areas]makes absolutely no sense,” she said. “And I really hope this lawsuit will help the government understand that.”
This report by the Canadian Press was first published on November 13, 2022.
join the conversation