Safe Harbour Stewardship Agreements
A “Safe Harbour Agreement" is one example of a stewardship agreement that is possible under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act. This type of agreement is between the Ministry of Natural Resources and either an individual property owner or a group of landowners. Under the agreement, and possibly through an incentive program, landowners would voluntarily create, restore and maintain valuable rare habitat such as grasslands or wetlands.
If a species listed as at-risk under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) subsequently inhabits that area, the landowner retains the option of undoing those actions at a later date. In other words, the landowner is not subject to additional restrictions under the ESA as a result of habitat restoration efforts. Through Safe Harbour, harm to a species at risk (so called "incidental take") can be accommodated throughout the duration of the agreement and restored habitat can be altered at end of the agreement. This is what is meant by s Safe Harbour Agreement.
Ontario Nature has been working with government, farmers, private landowners, naturalists and other stakeholders on drafting a Safe Harbour Agreement that meets the needs of landowners and wildlife. We believe it is important to partner with people and communities connected with the land to help create a “made-in Ontario” plan that supports the conservation work of landowners. With more than 90 percent of at-risk species habitat found on privately held lands in the province, individual efforts are paramount.
To learn more, please e-mail Anne Bell, director of conservation and education, at firstname.lastname@example.org.