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Defining Recovery and Recovery Criteria for
Endangered Species:
Science and policy issues behind the current debate in the US and Canada



More than 1,500 scientists attended ICCB 2013 


On July 24, a symposium at the ICCB conference in Baltimore, Maryland brought together a multi-disciplinary group of biologists and policy experts from the US and Canada to address policy questions surrounding the definition of recovery, as well as the related issue of how planners can efficiently and transparently develop recovery criteria that guide recovery efforts.

The US Endangered Species Act and Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA) are among the world’s most important biodiversity-related statutes. The Canadian federal government has suggested that SARA needs to be streamlined, in part by substituting ecosystem conservation for time-consuming recovery plans developed for individual species. In the US, recent reviews have proposed that, given the number of taxa which may require species-specific conservation measures in perpetuity, policymakers need to shift emphasis from long-term federal management of listed species to more rapid delisting that allows management by state and private entities. In contrast, others see such calls for more streamlined planning and management as undermining conservation of vulnerable taxa.

In essence, this debate hinges on unresolved questions concerning how the public interprets the meaning of recovery and what cost it is willing to bear to achieve it. For some, recovery may imply self-sustaining populations that can play their historic role in ecosystems, whereas others see recovery of a small intensively-managed population as sufficient. The talks can be downloaded from the links given below.

  1. The Evolution Of US Policy On Endangered Species Recovery Since Passage Of The ESA. Dan Rohlf, Lewis and Clark University (slides) (audio)
  2. Revisions of the US Endangered Species Recovery Planning Guidance. Debby Crouse, US Fish and Wildlife Service 
  3. Why Guidance Is Not Enough: Regulatory Sideboards On Recovery. Brett Hartl, Center for Biological Diversity (slides) (audio)
  4. Shifting Baselines For Endangered Species Recovery: Do Conservation-Reliant Species Merit Delisting? Carlos Carroll, KCCR (slides) (audio)
  5. An Analysis of Recovery Strategies For Canada’s Species At Risk. Jeannette Whitton, University of British Columbia (slides) (audio)
  6. Defining Recovery Under Canada’s Species At Risk Act: De-listing Or More? Justina Ray, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada (slides) (audio)
  7. A Risk-Based Approach To Recovery Planning Under SARA: A Case Study Of The Wide-Ranging And Elusive Woodland Caribou. Fiona Schmiegelow, University of Alberta (slides) (audio)

From Carlos Carroll, Chair of the SCB Policy Committee