March 3rd, 2024

Ruling should spur federal action to protect at-risk migratory bird habitat: ENGOs

By The Canadian Press on February 6, 2024.

Environmental groups say a recent court decision must spur quick action from the federal government to better protect critical migratory bird habitat from old-growth logging and other destruction. A marbled murrelet is shown in mid flight over the waters near Mitlenatch Island, B.C., in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Deb Freeman **MANDATORY CREDIT **

Environmental groups say a recent court decision must spur quick action from the federal government to better protect critical migratory bird habitat from old-growth logging and other destruction.

A Federal Court judge sided last week with the environmental groups who alleged Canada’s environment minister had too narrowly interpreted certain federal protections for at-risk migratory birds.

The groups allege Minister Seven Guilbeault took a position in 2022 that the federal government had no obligation to protect anything other than nests on provincial lands, and not the wider habitat at-risk migratory birds need to survive.

If that interpretation went unchallenged, the groups argued the majority of critical habitat of at least 25 at-risk migratory bird species, including the marbled murrelet nesting in British Columbia’s coastal old-growth forests, would have been unprotected on non-federal land across the country.

Chief Justice Paul Crampton’s ruling last week found the minister’s interpretation was unreasonably narrow, sending the minister’s protection statement back to the government for reconsideration.

The minister had argued his interpretation maximized the provincial ability to act in an area of shared jurisdiction, while a broader interpretation risked undermining co-operative federalism.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 6, 2024.

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