The BC Liberal government is getting a bit of a rough ride over its environmental record, as the British Columbia Biodiversity Committee suggests that some 3800 species of plants and animals are at greater risk today than at any time in their life cycle.
With the release of a report called Taking Nature's Pulse, the environmental group blasts the provincial governments stewardship of our natural environment, listing a number of incursions by humans that have caused trouble for the natural world.
The theme was quickly picked up by the opposition NDP who called the Liberal agenda as a hypocritical bit of work, providing little in the way of positive impact on nature.
The Daily News featured the background on the study and the reaction to it from environmentalists as their front page story in Tuesday's paper.
VICTORIA URGED TO PROTECT PROVINCE'S PLANTS, ANIMALS
Biodiversity under attack from human activity, impediments to water-flow: report
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
A new report from the British Columbia Biodiversity Committee makes recommendations about how the government can best protect the provinces 3,800 plant and animal species, but environmental and conservation groups say the government's response to it is "underwhelming."
The committee's most recent report, Taking Nature's Pulse, reveals that almost half of the province's plants and animals are in danger, and provides a strategic framework for protecting B.C.'s biological diversity.
One of the major findings in the 270-page report is that the flow of lakes, streams and wetlands is being seriously impacted by dams, logging and climate change.
The report also states that human activity is disrupting the province's forests, migratory birds and spawning salmon, and that forestry, oil and gas and transportation have "seriously impacted" B.C.'s biodiversity.
NDP environment critic Shane Simpson introduced a private member's bill in the legislature several months ago that would have alleviated some of the concerns brought forward by the biodiversity committee, but it was not adopted, said the MLA.
"The report released today by the Biodiversity Committee provides the government with vital information, and should act as a catalyst for action," said Simpson, the MLA for Vancouver-Hastings.
"Instead of leading the charge, the Campbell government is defending its dismal record, and ignoring the challenges facing the many rich and diverse ecosystems that make up our province.
"To date, the Campbell government has failed on this front, and their weak laws have done nothing to halt the increase of species at risk," contended Simpson.
"Despite spending millions trying to convince British Columbians that he is environmentally friendly, the premier's hypocrisy is shining through."
Simpson said that B.C. currently has no across-the-board measures to protect species or habitat in B.C., yet the province is the most biologically diverse in Canada.
Gwen Barlee of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee called the framework "the same useless policies and lack of funding that got B.C. into trouble in the first place," and said the government has been failing to protect endangered species because it doesn't want to step on the toes of lumber and mining industries."
North Coast MLA Gary Coons said the government's refusal to protect vulnerable habitat for endangered species may put some species at greater risk for extinction.
"If this government was serious about safeguarding the environment they would not object to protecting key habitats for endangered and vulnerable species," said Coons.
"If we don't protect ecosystems from destruction, we can tax gas to high heaven, and it won't make an inch of difference. Our provincial legislation is inadequate to protect biodiversity. It's absolutely mystifying to me that Gordon Campbell professes to be green, yet he still stands idly by while species hurtle towards extinction."