Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA 2007) prohibits the damage or destruction of the habitat of species classified as endangered or threatened on the Species at Risk in Ontario (SARO) List in Ontario Regulation 230/08. Draft policy guidance pertaining to the interpretation of protected habitat and the assessment of damage or destruction on protected habitat will be forthcoming. Through a separate Environmental Registry posting currently targeted for Spring 2011, open and transparent public comment and feedback will be solicited on the draft policy guidance.
Under the ESA 2007, “habitat” is defined as either an area on which a species depends directly or indirectly to carry on its life processes (based on the general definition in clause 2(1)(b) of the act or the area prescribed for the species in a habitat regulation (clause 2(1)(a)). A habitat regulation can prescribe an area as the habitat of the species through the description of boundaries, features of an area, or by describing the area in any other manner.
Under the ESA 2007, the MNR is required to give notice to the public under of the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 of a proposal to make a regulation (amending Ontario Regulation 242/08) that would prescribe an area as the habitat of a species which is listed on the SARO List as endangered or threatened. This notice shall be provided within 2 years for species designated as endangered and within 3 years for species designated as threatened.
On February 18, 2009, Eastern Flowering Dogwood and Ogden’s Pondweed were added to the SARO List as endangered, and Redside Dace was changed from threatened to endangered.
This proposal is related to the proposed regulation to prescribe the habitat for the following three species:
- Eastern Flowering Dogwood
- Ogden’s Pondweed
- Redside Dace.
Details on these species’ habitat and the draft content of the proposed regulation for these species at risk were developed based on the best available scientific information. To provide a level of certainty to areas that are protected, in some cases the proposed regulation has been defined on specific features, geography, and known and historic occurrences. To the extent possible the government would like to protect the habitat of species where it occurs and is interested in perspectives that would provide additional details on locations that could be protected outside those identified in the current proposal. To provide greater clarity regarding ESA requirements and process for protecting Redside Dace, and to suggest best management practices for avoiding or mitigating impacts, a guidance document for development activities in Redside Dace protected habitat has been developed and is also available for review and comment in conjunction with the proposed posting for the draft habitat regulation.
The MNR recognizes the importance of investments that will have been made in various projects and is seeking input on an approach that would phase in the requirements of the Redside Dace habitat protection for existing projects that are currently in construction or in planning approvals.
For more specific details on the proposed content for the regulation and other related information on these species and the act, see web links below.