Sometimes independent bodies mandated to monitor the government have the courage to tell the truth. Today is one of those days. The Auditor General of British Columbia released an audit of biodiversity in B.C., essentially a report card on how the BC government was fairing at protecting the province’s natural treasure.
The BC government received a failing grade on each of the three simple questions it was being evaluated on. The questions and the auditor general’s short answers (his exact words):
Q. Does the government have a clear understanding of biodiversity in B.C.?
A. Significant gaps exist in government’s understanding of biodiversity in BC.
Q. Are government actions resulting in conservation of biodiversity?
A. Government does not know whether its actions are resulting in the conservation of biodiversity.
Q. Is government reporting and measuring publicly on its progress towards conserving biodiversity?
A. Government is not adequately measuring and reporting on its progress in the conservation of biodiversity.
The clarity and simplicity of the questions and answers made me happy that the public was getting information in a straightforward and honest manner. The Auditor General pointed out today that the direction the government has been taking on protecting biodiversity in BC is the wrong one. Our province needs a new direction.
I guess it’s not surprising this was a report by John Doyle, the truth telling auditor general, that the government recently tried to oust from his position. By speaking such unpopular truths to the government, he is revealing the state of British Columbia. It is a Canadian jewel without an effective and coordinated legal framework to protect or manage it.
Check out 5:20 in the video summary of the report. It quite simply points out that habitat destruction at the hands of human activity (read: logging, mining, roads, dams) is the main reason species become extinct.
But it can change. Greenpeace advocates for comprehensive conservation plans led by independent science and traditional indigenous knowledge that protects ecosystems into the future. The only place this is happening right now is the Great Bear Rainforest, which is a great model in the making for how to marry conservation, economics and human well-being, but one that still needs to be finished.
In the lead up to an election in May, the report bluntly described the current government's track record of not protecting our natural resources. Now the question is whether any other party is willing to roll up its sleeves and take the action necessary to protect our province's greatest asset - our world renowned forests and biodiversity.
Stephanie Goodwin is the B.C. Director for Greenpeace and works in our Vancouver office.