Species At Risk

Details of other authorizations

To provide flexibility and ensure that Ontario’s businesses and residents can continue to prosper while protecting species at risk and their habitat, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) includes several kinds of authorizations. These include permits, agreements and exemptions. Details about several significant authorizations are provided to show how these authorizations give flexibility to Ontarians and protect species at risk.

Stewardship Agreements

Under the ESA, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) may enter into an agreement for the purpose of assisting in the protection or recovery of a species that is listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario List.

By entering into a stewardship agreement with the Ministry, you can perform an activity that may, for example, involve collecting some seeds in order to help protect or recover a species at risk. These activities are not allowed under the ESA. With an agreement, conditions are put in place to make sure adverse effects on the species are small while doing the activity, and the result will help the species. An agreement is a legal document and the conditions must be followed.

What kind of activity is suitable for a stewardship agreement? There are lots of possibilities as long as the goal is to help protect or recover species at risk. Some examples are:

  1. harvesting wild eastern prairie fringed-orchid seeds to re-plant as part of a multi-year prairie restoration project
  2. collecting plant materials for research to find or grow a disease-resistant Butternut tree
  3. building a fence in stream-bank habitat where species at risk occur, to keep cattle out of the stream, and restoring the habitat.

Aboriginal Agreements

Under the ESA, the Ministry may enter into an agreement for an activity that would otherwise contravene the act, with:

  • a band as defined in the Indian Act
  • a tribal council or
  • an organization representing a territorially-based Aboriginal community.

This type of agreement authorizes an activity that would otherwise contravene the ESA. The Ministry cannot enter into an agreement if the authorized activity would jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species in Ontario.

Protection of Health or Safety

Actions carried out by persons to protect a person or animal are exempt from the species and habitat protection provisions of the ESA, if it is believed that there is an imminent risk to the health or safety of the human being or animal. This exemption also enables people like fire fighters, and police officers, to carry out their duties to protect human health, safety and property, and to enforce the law, if it is not reasonable to comply with the protection provisions of the ESA in the circumstances.

If your activity is to protect human health or safety but the risk to health or safety is not imminent, you may need a health or safety permit under the ESA.

Agriculture - Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark (Expires October 31, 2014)

Activities undertaken while carrying out an agricultural operation are exempt by regulation from the species and habitat protection provisions of the ESA, with respect to bobolink and eastern meadowlark, until October 31, 2014. The exempted area which provided habitat for bobolink or eastern meadowlark must remain suitable for an agricultural operation.

For the purposes of this regulation, “agricultural operation” means an agricultural or horticultural operation that is carried out with the expectation of financial gain or reward and includes:

  • draining, irrigating or cultivating land
  • growing, producing or raising farm animals
  • production of agricultural crops, including greenhouse crops, maple syrup, mushrooms, nursery stock, tobacco, trees and turf grass,
  • production of eggs, cream and milk
  • operation of agricultural machinery and equipment
  • management of materials containing nutrients for farm purposes
  • ground and aerial spraying
  • storage, handling or use of organic wastes

Development – Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark

Development activities that meet one of the requirements below are exempt by regulation from the habitat protection provisions of the ESA for bobolink and eastern meadowlark, provided all conditions prescribed in the regulation can be met.

  1. Development on lands designated as an area of settlement in an official plan of a municipality approved before January 1, 2013, provided the area of habitat damaged or destroyed is replaced
  2. Development activities where Draft Plan Approval or Condominium Act Approval is obtained before November 1, 2014, provided an area equal to 50% of the area of habitat damaged or destroyed is replaced
  3. Development activities where Draft Plan Approval or Condominium Act Approval is obtained before January 1, 2013, provided an area equal to 10% of the habitat damaged or destroyed is replaced

Conditions:

  • Submit a development plan to MNR which outlines information on the activity and the actions that will be taken to minimize adverse effects on the species’ habitat, including:
    • Activity description, qualification evidence, name, location, map, size of the habitat, ecoregion, proposed start date and,
    • Habitat replacement area location, map, ecoregion, size of the replacement area, soil composition, vegetation composition.
  • Replacement area must be established within 12 months of submitting the development plan.
  • Replacement area must be 50-80% grasses (at least three species) with remainder in forbs or legumes.
  • At least one of the grasses must grow to more than 50 centimetres under normal growing conditions.
  • Maintenance of the replacement area is required for at least five years to maintain the habitat as described above and in a condition suitable for continued use of bobolink and eastern meadowlark.
  • Where the replacement area will be used for livestock grazing, animals must be excluded from 50% of the area between September 16th and July 31st of the following year.

Butternut

Dead or unhealthy butternut trees that, in the opinion of a Butternut Health Assessor, are infected by canker to the point where the tree will not contribute to the protection or recovery of the species (considered "non-retainable") may be removed, subject to the conditions below.

To qualify for this exemption in regulation, you must also meet the following requirements:

  • A butternut health assessor has prepared a written report that, for each tree to be killed harmed or taken:
    • identifies the location of the tree
    • sets out the diameter of the tree at breast height or indicates that the tree is shorter than breast height
    • states whether the Butternut Health Assessor believes the tree is affected by butternut canker, and if so, how badly it is affected and
    • states whether or not keeping the tree alive would help protect or recover the species
  • The report has been given to the MNR district manager for the district in which the tree is located.
  • The district manager has notified you (within 30 days of receiving the report) that he or she approves the Butternut Health Assessor’s report. Note: If after 30 days, the district manager has not notified you of their decision, you may proceed to remove the tree.

Up to 10 butternut trees that have been assessed as healthy ("retainable") may be removed without a permit, subject to the following conditions:

  • A Butternut Health Assessor has prepared a written report that sets out the same requirements as listed above.
  • A written planting plan has been prepared that:
    • identifies the trees that will be killed, taken or harmed, up to a maximum of 10 trees
    • for each tree to be killed, taken or harmed provides for the planting of replacement seedlings (see the butternut regulation for the number of seedlings required)
    • identifies the area where the seedlings will be planted and explains how they will be planted
    • identifies how the seedlings will be cared for and for how long
  • The report and planting plan are provided to the MNR district manager for the district in which the trees are located.
  • The district manager has notified you (within 30 days of receiving the report) that he or she approves the report and planting plan. If after 30 days, the district manager has not notified you of their decision, you may proceed to remove the tree.

Additional conditions are described in regulation.

A current focus of butternut recovery efforts is to identify trees which are demonstrating natural resistance to butternut canker. Trees demonstrating natural resistance are extremely rare and therefore those trees cannot be removed without a permit, despite the provision for the removal of up to 10 trees discussed above.

Commercial Cultivation

The exemption for commercial cultivation allows growers to obtain and grow horticultural plant species protected under the ESA.

To be eligible for this exemption, you must notify the MNR district manager at the nearest MNR office before commercially growing a plant species at risk. This notification must include:

  • Your name, address, telephone number and email address
  • The species you plan to grow and the cultivar
  • The source of genetic material that you plan to grow and
  • The location where you plan to grow the species.

You must also promptly notify the MNR district manager of any changes to the information you have provided.

When new species are listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario List, you have one year from listing to notify MNR if you are already growing the species.

Development and infrastructure – Redside Dace (Expires December 31, 2014)

Under this exemption, specific urban development and infrastructure activities are exempt from the protection provisions of the ESA for redside dace and its habitat, if the conditions in the regulation are met.

The exemption applies to activities conducted under one of the following approvals:

  • Development of land permitted by an official plan amendment made under the Planning Act, a zoning by-law made by a municipality under the Planning Act, or an integrated environmental assessment authorized under the Environmental Assessment Act, if:
    • the other approval was made or authorized after September 27, 2002 and before July 1, 2011,
    • the other approval specifies the limits of the valley and stream corridors in the area to be developed,
    • the other approval has been reviewed by the conservation authority for the area to be developed and
    • impacts of the development on redside dace were considered in making the amendment, by-law or assessment.
  • Development of a lot if the lot is within a draft plan of subdivision or development of a unit under the Condominium Act, if the approval was given after September 27, 2002 and before December 31, 2012, the approval has not expired and the development is not prohibited by any zoning by-law or order made under the Planning Act.
  • Carrying out an undertaking under Part II of the Environmental Assessment Act or under a specified Class Environmental Assessment, if the approval was given after September 27, 2002 and before July 1, 2011.

To qualify for this exemption, you must submit a Mitigation Report to the district managerat the nearest MNR office, receive approval of the plan from the MNR district manager, then carry out the activity in accordance with the Mitigation Plan. The requirements of the Mitigation Report are described in regulation.

General requirements of the mitigation plan include a description of the location of the activity, and the steps taken to minimize adverse effects on redside dace. The district manager may refuse the report if the requirements of the regulation are not met.

The regulation also prescribes specific requirements regarding the timing of activities, sediment control measures, restoration actions and storm water management designs.

The redside dace exemption regulation expires on December 31, 2014.

Waterpower Agreements

Waterpower facilities

The Ministry has been working with the waterpower sector since before the act came into effect.

Under regulation, operators of existing facilities may enter into an agreement with MNR if species at risk are present and the operation of the facility is causing adverse effects on the species. If the impacts on the species can be avoided by changing the operations of the station, and the operator agrees to make those changes, an agreement is not required.

There is also a time element to these agreements. Operators may continue to operate their stations without contravening the act for:

  • three years from the date a species is listed as endangered or threatened on the SARO List or
  • three years from the date a listed species is first observed to occur at a waterpower facility.

Authorization to Possess

Authorization to possess provides legal authority to the Ministry to transfer a species that is in the possession of the Crown to a person or organization for certain purposes.

If the Crown is in possession of a living or dead protected species at risk, or parts of one, it may be transferred to a person or body for:

  • scientific or educational purposes, or
  • traditional cultural, religious or ceremonial purposes.

This authorization allows a person or organization to possess the species for these purposes. Because only those authorized can possess them, MNR can keep track of “what is where.” This can help prevent illegal use of species, but also enable important partnerships, for example, genetic research at a university.

Related

Map of ontario What's at risk in my area?

Figuring out if you need an authorization, like a permit or an agreement, starts with identifying which protected species are in your area.

How do I get a permit? How do I get a permit?

Find out what steps you need to take in order to get the permit you need.

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