Experts gather at Koffler to discuss Species at Risk Act
The newly-formed Canadian Institute for Ecology and Evolution (CIEE) held a three-day session last week at the Koffler Scientific Reserve at Jokers Hill on Dufferin Street.
Arne Mooers, associate professor of biodiversity at Simon Fraser University, one of the participants in the session, explained there were nine experts taking part from all over the country.
Canada was one of the first major industrialized countries to ratify the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity 15 years ago, but many species, including caribou, grizzly bears, Atlantic Cod, spotted owls and beluga whales, lack legal protection, in spite of being identified as being at risk.
Mooers explained SARA was enacted five years ago, and is slated to be reviewed by Parliament next year.
"It's sort of a sciencefocused law," he said, adding it made sense for CIEE to go through it, checking what has and hasn't worked.
He added it was a mixed group taking part; "people who have been deeply involved with the legislation since day one, and people who are fresh."
Although Canada was quick to ratify the Rio Convention, it took several years to get legislation passed. The United States was much faster getting something in place. While Canada had to play catchup, Mooers said the delay offered the advantage of observing what the Americans had already done. "We were able to learn from their mistakes," he said.
He also said last week's session had been productive, adding they had identified areas coming out of the legislation that were "depressing," especially in terms of how it was being implemented. He added they had found issues of transparency, dealing with who makes decisions in the end.
Koffler Director Art Weis was pleased the local facility got to host the gathering.
"This is sort of a proof of concept gathering," he said, "how to demonstrate there's a need in Canada that we can fulfill."
He added it offered a chance to bring top-noted scientists together to take basic research findings and and seek ways to apply them to canada's environmental health and well-being.