Endangered Black Ash Needs Immediate Protection

Endangered Black Ash Needs Immediate Protection

A year ago, in October 2020, the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO) determined that black ash was endangered in Ontario. Yet the species and its habitat are not yet protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act (ESA). Worse, the provincial government is now proposing to further delay protections for another two years. During this time, activities harmful to the species and its habitat would be allowed to occur, without legal repercussions. 

Contrary to the claims of the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) the delay is not needed to gather more information about ...

A year ago, in October 2020, the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO) determined that black ash was endangered in Ontario. Yet the species and its habitat are not yet protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act (ESA). Worse, the provincial government is now proposing to further delay protections for another two years. During this time, activities harmful to the species and its habitat would be allowed to occur, without legal repercussions. 

Contrary to the claims of the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) the delay is not needed to gather more information about threats to the species. In fact, these threats are already well understood and documented by scientific bodies such as COSSARO and the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). 

MECP’s pretence that more time is needed to consider the “significant” social and economic impacts of protecting Black Ash is also unfounded. Overall benefit permits, agreements and regulatory exemptions already provide ample flexibility. Forestry operations in managed Crown forests are entirely exempt from ESA requirements. 

Black ash should benefit from the full protection of the law, without further delay. Here’s why: 

  • Globally, black ash is critically endangered. Since at least 25 percent of the species’ global range is in Ontario, we have a significant conservation responsibility (COSSARO, p.3). 

  • Black ash is a culturally significant species for many Indigenous Peoples. 

  • Delay would create a perverse incentive for destruction: development proponents wishing to avoid meeting ESA requirements would have two more years to cut down trees and destroy habitats (primarily in wetlands) with impunity. 

  • Continued and likely accelerated removal of black ash risks the loss of genetic diversity that could provide resistance to emerald ash borer, the primary cause of black ash decline. 

  • Habitat loss “may have significant regional effects” on remaining black ash in areas heavily converted to agriculture and urban development (COSEWIC, p. 45).  

For a more detailed review, you can read our blog “Ten Reasons to Demand Immediate Protection for Endangered Black Ash”. 

We invite you to join Ontario Nature in urging MECP to fully protect black ash and its habitats without further delay. Please sign and, if possible, personalize the letter provided to Minister Piccini, your local MPP and the Public Input Coordinator at MECP. 

The deadline for comment is November 7, 2021 (ERO # 019-4278). 

 

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No time for delay amid the sixth mass extinction

  • David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
  • Cc: Species at Risk Branch, Public Input Coordinator
  • Your local MPP

 

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