Species At Risk

Overall Benefit Permit

What is an Overall Benefit permit?


Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Ministry of Natural Resources may issue an overall benefit permit to a person, company or organization who will perform an activity for which the main purpose is not to help protect or recover a species at risk. The overall benefit permit authorizes that person to perform an activity that is not otherwise allowed under the ESA, as long as he or she provides an overall benefit to the species in Ontario.

You may need an overall benefit permit under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) if:

  • your activity is not for the protection or recovery of a species at risk;
  • your activity is not for the protection of human health or safety;
  • your activity will not provide a significant social or economic benefit to Ontario; and,
  • you are not a band (as defined in the federal Indian Act), a tribal council, or an organization that represents a territorially-based Aboriginal community.

Examples of activities requiring an overall benefit permit

  • Building a housing development in the habitat of eastern prairie fringed-orchid.
  • Cut down American chestnut trees to build a trail through private property.
  • Build a new highway through the habitat of Blanding’s turtle and eastern foxsnake.

Requirements and conditions

An overall benefit permit may only be issued if:

  • An overall benefit to the species will be achieved within a reasonable time frame through the requirements imposed by the conditions of the permit. Learn More
  • Reasonable alternatives have been considered, including alternatives that would not adversely affect the species, and the best alternative has been chosen. Learn More
  • Reasonable steps to minimize adverse effects on the species are required by the conditions of the permit. Learn More

Before issuing an overall benefit permit, the Minstry must consider the Government Response Statement , if one exists, for each species at risk that may be affected by the permitted activity.

An overall benefit permit may also include conditions such as:

  • Impact monitoring (the collection and summary of scientific data on the effects of the authorized activity on the species): The goal is to improve future predictions of the effects of particular activities on species at risk.
  • Effectiveness monitoring (the collection and summary of scientific data on the success of steps taken to minimize adverse effects on the species and achieve an overall benefit for the species): The goal is to increase the success of these measures over time.
  • Supplementary actions (specific action(s) to be taken if measures to minimize adverse effects or achieve an overall benefit are not successful) and/or
  • Requirements for scheduled submission of reports to MNR: Reporting provides a way for proponents to update MNR on the status of the activity and the results of impact and effectiveness monitoring efforts. Reports also let proponents show MNR that they are complying with the conditions of their permit.

Process

The process of applying for and obtaining an overall benefit permit has multiple phases. Completing the phases often involves many discussions between you and MNR. Contact your local MNR office early when planning and designing your activity. Also contact all relevant land owners and authorities early in the process to identify any requirements they may have. This will help avoid unnecessary delays and ensure that species and habitat protection measures are considered early on.

While it is your responsibility to provide the necessary information to MNR throughout the permitting process, MNR staff can offer you support by:

  • sharing information on species at risk and habitat at or near the location of your activity
  • providing advice on whether an overall benefit permit may be necessary for the proposed activity
  • identifying whether more species at risk surveys are needed
  • providing advice on appropriate methods for conducting surveys
  • providing species-specific information, reports and policy direction, where available
  • providing advice on alternatives that would avoid adverse effects on species at risk and their habitat
  • providing advice on preparing your permit application, including steps to minimize adverse effects and achieve an overall benefit for species at risk

Resources

Understanding the Requirements


Overall Benefit

Reasonable Alternatives

Mitigation

What is Overall Benefit?


Providing an overall benefit to a species means undertaking actions that contribute to improving the circumstances for the species. Overall benefit is more than no net loss or an exchange of like-for-like. Overall benefit is grounded in the protection and recovery of the species at risk and must include more than steps to minimize adverse effects of the activity on the protected species or habitats.
Learn more

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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