Gov not protecting B.C. biodiversity

The British Columbia government's record on protecting the province's rich biodiversity is "troubling," the B.C. auditor general said Thursday.

The provincial government not only is failing to measure its conservation progress, but doesn't appear to have a clear understanding of what biodiversity is, John Doyle said in his latest report.

"Biodiversity is so important. It's like a canary-in-the-mine situation," Doyle said. "Declining biodiversity is like a litmus test, a warning sign, that tells you about an environment under stress."

B.C. is the most biologically diverse province in Canada and one of the most diverse regions of the world, he said.

"Once lost it's almost impossible to get back and, therefore, you need to maintain it and protect it."

The audit found that government does not know whether the actions it has taken have actually resulted in conservation, and that government is not adequately measuring or reporting its progress.

Recent assessments have shown that many species and ecosystems are in decline, the report said.

Despite decades of commitments, Doyle found the government has not fully implemented promised policies and tools. There are gaps in legislation and a lack of information.

The same issues exist today as existed when the last audit was conducted 20 years ago, he said, adding that habitat protection represents up to 90 per cent of the problem.

The report made six recommendations, including a timeline for conservation actions and clear goals.

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