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Environmental groups take Ottawa to court over new piping plover habitat rules

A nationwide environmental regulation group involved about new guidelines to guard piping plover habitat is taking the federal authorities to courtroom. 

Ecojustice Canada, representing Nature Nova Scotia and East Coast Environmental Regulation, has filed a lawsuit asking for a judicial assessment from the federal Minister of the Atmosphere and Local weather Change, Steven Guilbeault.

The group is worried about modifications to the federal government’s restoration technique for piping plovers, which previously protected total seashores the place the birds nest, together with 49 seashores on Prince Edward Island.

The up to date technique, authorised this 12 months, now makes use of what’s known as a “bounding field” method, primarily figuring out smaller components of the seashores thought-about vital habitat as a substitute of the whole seashore.

Piping plovers nest on sand dunes, and through nesting season the P.E.I. Nationwide Park asks guests to remain away. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

“Piping plover will typically nest in a single place on the seashore however they’re going to change place as a result of they nested disturbed areas and infrequently the seashores change,” stated Bob Bancroft, president of Nature Nova Scotia, who has studied piping plovers. 

“We want the entire seashore protected against a plover perspective,” Bancroft advised Laura Chapin on Island Morning.

The variety of plovers on P.E.I. declined this 12 months to only 51 grownup birds, down from 69 counted in 2021.

The shore chook has been listed as endangered by the Committee on the Standing of Wildlife in Canada since 1985.

Remainder of seashore ‘susceptible’

Ecojustice lawyer Sarah MacDonald advised Chapin the bounding field method is problematic. 

“Any vital habitat protections that could possibly be given to the plover in gentle of this method to identification can be inadequate and would not assist their survival and restoration just like the laws is meant to do,” stated MacDonald. 

One of many points, she stated, is that by defending smaller areas, the remainder of the seashore is uncovered. 

“It leaves the remainder of the seashore susceptible to improvement and to all of the actions that we all know are dangerous to piping plover like mining and quarrying and air pollution and that type of factor,” stated MacDonald.

She additionally identified that seashores change, such because the shifting of dunes after post-tropical storm Fiona. 

“Who’s to say that, you already know, in a single 12 months there’s vital habitat on this one space of the seashore and so one other space will get developed,” she stated.

The federal authorities says the up to date restoration technique for piping plovers will enhance the applying of authorized safety and prohibitions. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

In an e mail to CBC Information, Atmosphere and Local weather Change Canada stated it is unable to touch upon this particular case.

It did say, nevertheless, that the up to date restoration technique will enhance the applying of authorized safety and prohibitions.

“The up to date vital habitat provides new websites, extra exactly identifies vital habitat areas and accommodates the shifting nature of those coastal habitats,” a division spokesperson wrote. 

The e-mail additionally stated the division is dedicated to defending the piping plover and its vital habitat. 

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