This consultation was open from:
September 23, 2021
to November 7, 2021
We are proposing a Minister’s regulation to temporarily pause the protections for Black Ash under the Endangered Species Act, for two years from the time it is added to the Species at Risk in Ontario List regulation. This would allow time to develop an approach to support Black Ash protection and recovery that considers social and economic impacts.
Details of the proposed regulation
As a result of the input we received in response to the upcoming listing of Black Ash as endangered, we are proposing a Minister’s regulation to temporarily pause the protections for Black Ash under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) for two years from the time it is added to the Species at Risk in Ontario List (SARO List Regulation).
This will allow the ministry time to gather relevant scientific information to better understand the threats to Black Ash trees and the best way to recover it. During this time, proponents will not need to seek authorizations for activities that impact Black Ash and its habitat.
The regulation would include an order to temporarily pause the application of the prohibitions in sections 9 and 10 of the ESA against harming the species or its habitat for a period of two years from the time that Black Ash is added to the SARO List regulation.
Note that COSSARO’s assessment indicates that Black Ash is currently common and found throughout much of Ontario. The species is of conservation concern only because of the high number of Black Ash trees that the Emerald Ash Borer is expected to kill as its distribution expands in the province over the next generations of trees (approximately 100 years).
We remain committed to engaging with stakeholders, Indigenous communities and the public as part of continued efforts to protect and recover species at risk in Ontario.
Background: listing Black Ash under the Endangered Species Act
Ontario is committed to providing protections for species at risk under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA).
On January 27, 2021, the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks received an annual report from Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO). COSSARO is an independent committee of experts, including members with expertise in scientific disciplines, community knowledge or Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge, responsible for:
- assessing species at risk in Ontario
- providing classifications to the Minister of the Environment Conservation and Parks
COSSARO’s report included the assessment and classification of Black Ash (a tree species) as endangered. The ESA requires the SARO Regulation to be amended to reflect COSSARO’s classification of Black Ash as endangered within one year of receiving the report (i.e. by January 27, 2022). Once this amendment is made, the provisions of the ESA would apply to Black Ash and it would receive full species and habitat protection under the prohibitions in sections 9 and 10 of the Act.
Given the classification as an endangered species, the ministry is developing a recovery strategy for Black Ash. The MECP intends to:
- complete this strategy within a year of the amendment to the SARO List regulation
- have this strategy inform a species-specific policy direction for species recovery (a government response statement).
Information about Black Ash
Black Ash is broadly distributed in Ontario and is found throughout much of the province. The primary threat to the species is an invasive insect, Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) that causes infested trees to die. It is expected that EAB will cause more than a 70% reduction of Black Ash trees over the next two generations (i.e. approximately 100 years).
Black Ash trees are currently used for a variety of purposes including lumber, fuelwood and Indigenous traditional uses (e.g. producing woven baskets).
Black Ash is of cultural significance to Indigenous peoples.
Black Ash lumber is used for items, including tool handles, sports equipment, furniture and interior finishes. As a result, it may be found in many households.
The species is currently harvested during forest and woodlot management activities and is also encountered during other activities including those related to development, infrastructure, mining, and agriculture.
As a result of mortality caused by EAB, it is expected that Black Ash trees will increasingly require removal or maintenance to ensure public health and safety.
Based on early input received from stakeholders, Indigenous communities and members of the public, it is anticipated that the protection of Black Ash trees and their habitat would likely result in significant social and economic impacts for a variety of sectors and individuals across Ontario.
Regulatory impact statement
The regulation will allow activities that impact Black Ash and its habitat to proceed without the requirement for an ESA authorization or exemption for a period of two years while the government determines the best approach for protecting and recovering the species.
This proposal is likely to have a neutral impact and is not expected to result in any new costs for business. We remain committed to engaging with stakeholders, Indigenous communities and the public as part of continued efforts to protect and recover species at risk in Ontario.
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Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.
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