Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

March 21, 2007

Guelph Profs Contribute to Ontario's Revised Endangered Species Act

Removing politics from the scientific listing process of endangered species is key to protecting at-risk plants and animals, according to the advisory panel of the revised Endangered Species Act, which included University of Guelph integrative biology professors Tom Nudds and Ron Brooks.

“The listing process should be separate from what will happen after the species is listed,” said Nudds. “Previous legislation was problematic because politics tended to get in the way.”

Nudds said creating a separate process for listing species will give stakeholders such as hunting, forestry, agriculture and fisheries an opportunity to offer input on how best to deal with rebuilding the species rather than influencing whether the plant or animal makes the list or not.

“The active involvement of such stakeholders in the recovery process is also key to success, but it will require significant new resources to help stakeholders adjust,” he said. “The panel philosophy was: more carrots, fewer sticks.”

In the past, the listing of a species could lead to automatic prohibition of activities that might affect the species -- such as hunting, forestry, fishing and agriculture -- as a way to protect the plant or animal. Under the proposed act announced this week by the Ministry of Natural Resources, decisions about how to best protect an endangered species wouldn't be made until the species makes the list.

This is the first time since the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1971 that provincial laws protecting species at risk have been reviewed. If passed, the proposed legislation will be the strongest in Canada.

Ontario is home to more than 30,000 species, and currently more than 175 are identified as being at risk.

Nudds said he expects the short-term effect of the revised act will be an increase in the number of species added to the list because the political obstacles will disappear. But the long-term effect will ultimately be a shorter list because the revised process will allow stakeholders to have an active role in protecting the species.

“The ultimate goal is to make the list shorter,” he said.

Prof. Tom Nudds
Department of Integrative Biology
519-824-4120, Ext. 53074

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982.

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