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Biodiversity

Canada and the US together with Mexico adopted both national and regional measures to strengthen conservation. In Canada, for example, a new federal act to protect endangered species, the Species at Risk Act, became effective in 2003 following several years of intensive consultations. In addition, more than 450 km2 of the Canadian Forces Base Suffield in Alberta was officially designated in June 2003 as Canada’s 51st National Wildlife Area. This designation represents a significant contribution to the Government of Canada’s goal of establishing protected areas to preserve critical wildlife habitats and protect species at risk (Environment Canada 2003d).

In the US, The H. Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, produced the first Annual Update 2003, a Web-only revision to the groundbreaking report The State of the Nation’s Ecosystems, originally published in 2002 (Heinz Center 2002). The report lays out a blueprint for periodic reporting on the condition and use of ecosystems in the United States. Developed by experts from business, environmental organizations, universities, and federal, state, and local government agencies, it is designed to provide policymakers and the general public with a succinct and comprehensive – yet scientifically-sound and non-partisan – view of progress. The State of the Nation’s Ecosystems identifies what should be measured, counted, and reported so that decision-makers and the public can understand the changes occurring in the American landscape. The new data contained in Annual Update 2003 demonstrate a continuation of existing trends; no major deviations were reported (Heinz Center, 2004).

In keeping with a negotiated agreement to expedite the protection of 29 species under the Endangered Species Act, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (US FWS) acted in 2003 to protect seven species in five states (White House 2003c).

At the regional level, Canada, the US and Mexico adopted in June 2003 a long-term strategy for the conservation of critical species and habitats in North America (CEC 2003). The biodiversity strategy has been described as a ‘landmark of cooperation’ that creates an opportunity for North America to serve as a ‘global leader’ (CEC 2003) through the development of cooperative approaches to address biodiversity issues over which there is shared concern. The main goals of the strategic plan are to:

promote the conservation of regions of ecological significance, migratory birds and transboundary species;

facilitate data and information sharing on monitoring and assessment, as well as best practices and priorities;

promote collaborative responses to the threats faced by ecosystems, habitats and species; and

identify and evaluate trade and biodiversity linkages.


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