National Fish & Wildlife Conservation Congress

Laws and Policies

Question 1. Is there anything that you would change about your vision?

Original Vision:

Laws and policies are based on accessible, transparent and comprehensive science-based research and analysis that help to inform wildlife management decisions and actions toward achieving clearly articulated conservation and acceptable-use goals for the benefit of fish, wildlife and people.

No revised vision.

Question 2: What is preventing your vision from being achieved?

  • Funding
    • Limited resources and funds
  • Education
    • Distrust of scientists among policy makers and general public (e.g., resource users that do not believe resources are declining)
    • Lack of understanding and buy-in from public, including questioning science
  • Collaboration
    • Incompatibility of laws and policies within government
    • Lack of clarity regarding accountability
    • Different entities do not always agree, hence often issues are dropped or policies not implemented
    • Too much focus on differences as opposed to commonalities
    • Difference in how comprehensive science is interpreted
    • Lack of coordination and integration among conservation groups and non-governmental organizations to achieve like-minded goals
    • Lack of communication by policy makers and scientists in applying scientific findings
    • Lack of incorporation of traditional/local knowledge
  • Planning
    • Lack of long-term vision, especially the capacity to address problems before public becomes aware of them
    • Time pressure for making decisions and implementing policies
    • Lack of strategy for directing available funding toward most important science priorities
  • Policy
    • Policy and laws get passed before science is proven
    • Policy may be created but does not necessarily have continuity throughout all levels of government and thus does not always get to the ground level (lack of vertical integration)
    • Bottom to top policies - policies can be made for political gain or for reasons based on personal experiences and motives/emotions rather than proven scientific or on-the-ground expertise/results
    • Lack of clarity regarding overlapping jurisdictions and issues
    • Lack of public support for laws and policies
    • Policies that are not supported by legislation
  • Other
    • Limited in amount of lobbying (as charitable organizations) for conservation-related laws and policies
    • Opposing interests - (e.g., developers and political lobbyists)
    • Political interference
    • Lack of institutional incentives for achieving conservation objectives
    • Subjective interpretation of laws and policies

Question 3: What are the opportunities for achieving your vision? Brainstorm a list of recommendations?

  • Funding
    • Broaden the funding base and improve financial cooperation
    • Pool multi-stakeholder funds
  • Education
    • Need proactive public outreach on wildlife conservation issues
    • Public education more important as public become more disconnected from nature
    • Present environmental information clearly, in plain language and in ways that identify cumulative and long-term impacts
    • Establishment of diverse councils and stakeholder groups to communicate common messages and goals to lawmakers
    • Build strength in numbers by reaching out to non-traditional allies
  • Collaboration
    • Huge opportunity to improve collaboration by bringing individuals and organizations together to influence laws and policies
    • Need motivated institutions determined to achieve visions
    • Continue forums like National Fish and Wildlife Conservation Congress
    • Connect established zones for an ecosystem management approach to conservation
    • Solve problems before public is aware of them
  • Planning
    • Immediate need to establish a process for developing a long-term plan (possibly with an over-arching theme and specific goal) to be proactive in advance regarding capacity outreach structure, etc.
    • Build on successes like the North American Waterfowl Management Plan
    • Create an Adaptive Research Management office for government and others to obtain scientific expertise and data for decision-making processes - this could reduce policy makers applying their experienced-based theories versus science-based data to policy
    • Include social science data in planning
    • Wildlife does not compete well in the short-term versus industries such as mining and logging so long-term strategies and implications are needed
  • Policy
    • Participate and be inclusive in the policy-making process
    • Focus on national law reform issues, include the provinces
    • Inform policy by partnering with other groups to achieve results
    • Create advisory panels to governments
    • Policies need to be based on long-term objectives and perspectives
    • Create a culture wherein policy-making organizations obtain credible science-based info
    • Need for a comprehensive, clear and consistent approach to developing laws and policies with a flexibility in language to account for changes over time
    • Need to incorporate broad interpretation of science (including social science, economics, etc.)
    • Access public polling surveys to better understand public interests which can then be used to influence public policy makers
  • Other
    • Influence media through investigative journalism
    • Political implications - politicians want to know who is in favour and who is against these ideas - weighing decisions can be based on political survival

Question 4: From your brainstorming list, what are the top five recommendations for advancing your vision?

  1. Broaden the conservation support base by engaging non-traditional allies/partners, develop national education programs (including those aimed at new immigrants) and create awareness of conservation issues through media strategies and campaigns.
  2. Establish a multi-stakeholder, common-voice process and approach (create advisory groups) to help enhance stakeholder and partnership engagement, to reach out to all political parties and to ensure accountability in the development and regular review of laws and regulations.
  3. Establish an Office of Adaptive Research Management to assist in the government decision-making process and the development and enforcement of laws and regulations.
  4. Increase funding (science, compliance and enforcement, process, institutions) for institutions and organizations to better manage the science and enforcement process for laws and regulations.
  5. Continue and expand forums such as the National Fish and Wildlife Conservation Congress including:
    1. Hosting forums focussed on law reform - both national and provincial
    2. Creating avenues of communications regarding results of forums to all levels of government (federal, provincial, municipal).
  6. Build on existing success (e.g., North American Waterfowl Management Plan) to create a common voice for better coordination and expanded partnerships between non-governmental organizations, government, private sector, landowners and industry.
  7. Improve law and policy communications and education to the general public.
  8. Harmonize laws and policies across jurisdictions


Question 5: For each of your five recommendations, what role do governments, First Nations, non-governmental organizations, private sector, communities and landowners play in advancing your vision?

Federal Government Role

  • Implementation and enforcement
  • Lead and coordinate laws and policies processes
  • Represent fish and wildlife laws and policies internationally
  • Ensure standards across jurisdictions
  • Facilitate inter-jurisdictional efforts
  • Dedicate capacity and funding
  • Open to revisiting policy
  • Collaboration with provincial government

Provincial Government Role

  • Distribute federal funding
  • Collaboration with federal government
  • Coalition of stakeholders - (e.g., grass-roots decision makers)
  • Enable implementation by other stakeholders
  • Ensure accountability process
  • Develop laws and policies within a national framework

Non-governmental Organizations

  • Technical expertise
  • Advocacy
  • Science and data collection
  • Initiating concern - vehicle to starting change (identifying needs)
  • Communications and information sharing
  • Direct access to politicians
  • Facilitate partnerships
  • Funding (leverage)