March 3, 2022
East Coast Environmental Law has published a new addition to our series of reports on Atlantic Canadian governments' performance under their own laws to protect species at risk. In Simply Not Protected: An Evaluation of Prince Edward Island's Legal Framework to Protect Species at Risk, we assess whether Prince Edward Island's Wildlife Conservation Act is succeeding in its purpose of protecting endangered, threatened, and vulnerable wildlife and their habitats on the Island. Our conclusion is that it's not.
Most strikingly, although the Wildlife Conservation Act creates processes for the designation and protection of species at risk in Prince Edward Island, not one species has ever been designated under the Act. This means that no species on the Island are receiving the protections the Act is designed (in part) to provide.
Wildlife species inhabiting Prince Edward Island that have been recognized as endangered, threatened, vulnerable, or of special concern under federal legislation or the endangered species legislation of nearby Nova Scotia include avian species such as the Bank Swallow, Canada Warbler, and Piping Plover, as well as a number of bat, bee, butterfly, and lichen species.
Our report calls on Prince Edward Island's Minister of Environment, Energy, and Climate Action to take several steps under the Wildlife Conservation Act to protect wildlife species and their habitats on Prince Edward Island, but, given our conclusion that the Wildlife Conservation Act is not up to the task of protecting species at risk on the Island, we also call on the Government of Prince Edward Island and all interested parties to work together to establish new species at risk legislation that can address the biodiversity crisis and protect imperilled species more effectively.
The latest Working Group contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Sixth Assessment Report states clearly that the climate crisis and the crisis of global biodiversity loss are intertwined, and it tells us that biodiversity loss reduces ecosystems' and human beings' capacities to adapt to climate change. Now more than ever, Prince Edward Island's plans to achieve a sustainable, prosperous, net-zero society by 2040 need to be supported by effective laws to protect local biodiversity and species at risk.