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Leading scientists call for immediate action on biodiversity loss

The government is deliberating on the fate of at-risk plants and animals today

Wolverine © Anna Yu

Thunder Bay — More than 75 scientists are calling on the Government of Ontario to do more to protect at-risk plants and animals. As provincial decision-makers debate the future of species at risk today, scientists from Ontario and across North America are sounding the alarm about proposed changes to Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA). Despite widespread public outcry, the changes, found in Schedule 5 of Bill 108, could become final as early as next Monday if they are passed during third reading.

By putting so-called economic efficiencies before scientific integrity, the government is proposing to undermine critical environmental protections for species at risk while ignoring the advice of independent scientists who are experts in biology and ecology.

The government is not only ignoring scientists, it is misleading the public by pretending that proposed changes to the ESA would improve outcomes for species at risk. Seeing through the pretense, 96 organizations from across the province signed a joint letter opposing the proposed changes found in Schedule 5 of Bill 108. Additionally, more than 50,000 letters sent, phones calls made, and petitions signed calling on the government to reverse the changes. Many Ontarians want to see stronger, not weaker, protection for at-risk species and their habitats.

At a time when the Earth is losing species at 1,000 times the natural rate, it’s indefensible to leave the more than 230 species at risk twisting in the wind. The province of Ontario has a global obligation to protect biodiversity in the face of the key drivers of species loss – habitat destruction through industrial activity and development. Rather than meeting that obligation, the government is going in the other direction by making it easier for sprawl developers and industry to destroy the wetlands, field and forests while writing off scores of at-risk plants and animals.

The science is clear, yet the Government of Ontario does not appear to be listening.

Read the full letter: view.publitas.com/on-nature/esa-scientists-letter.

For more information or to arrange an interview:

John Hassell, Ontario Nature, johnh@ontarionature.org, 416-786-2171

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Ontario Nature protects wild species and wild spaces through conservation, education and public engagement. Ontario Nature is a charitable organization representing more than 30,000 members and supporters, and 150 member groups across Ontario. Through its office in Thunder Bay, Ontario Nature promotes conservation in northern Ontario by supporting grassroots groups to protect the places they love, ensuring habitat protection through forest certification, and promoting sustainable development that safeguards ecosystems and long-term prosperity. For more information, visit ontarionature.org.