The ongoing loss of biodiversity in Ontario and worldwide is one of the greatest challenges faced by our governments. Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth. In Ontario, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is responsible for managing Ontario’s wildlife and conserving the province’s biodiversity. This includes conducting research, monitoring wildlife populations, regulating hunting, and managing habitat – all while also enabling resource development.
On October 26, 2016, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) released her 2015/2016 Environmental Protection Report, Small Steps Forward, to the Ontario Legislature. Volume 2 of this report focused on three significant MNRF initiatives related to the conservation of biodiversity in Ontario:
- Managing and using fire in Ontario’s Northern forests;
- Invasive species management in Ontario; and
- Wildlife (moose, bats and amphibians) declines in Ontario.
One of the ECO’s core functions is to monitor and report on how provincial ministries that have responsibilities under the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 (EBR) carry out their obligations. Volume 1 of the ECO’s 2015/2016 Environmental Protection Report reviewed several key aspects of ministry compliance with the EBR, including:
- Release of the ECO’s first EBR report cards on ministry compliance;
- Ministries’ use of the Environmental Registry;
- Ministries’ co-operation with the ECO’s requests for information;
- The government’s progress keeping the EBR in sync with environmental laws;
- Ministries’ consideration of their Statement of Environmental Values when making environmentally significant decisions;
- How ministries handled EBR applications for review and investigation;
- How the public have used legal tools to enforce and protect their environmental rights;
Volume 1 also discusses other aspects of the ECO’s work, including: successes in moving the government forward on important environmental issues in 2015/2016; the ECO’s education and outreach efforts this year; and the recipients of the 2016 ECO Recognition Award.
You can visit the ECO’s website to download each volume of the ECO’s 2015/2016 Environmental Protection Report.