Purpose and Approach

The purposes of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) are:

  • to prevent Canadian indigenous species, subspecies and distinct populations of wildlife from becoming extirpated or extinct.
  • to provide for the recovery of species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity.
  • to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.

Western yellow-bellied racer Photo by dick cannings

The Act:

  • establishes the process for legally listing species.
  • prohibits activities that harm extirpated, threatened and endangered species, their residences, and their critical habitat.
  • requires the preparation of recovery strategies and action plans for extirpated, threatened and endangered species.
  • requires the preparation of management plans for species of special concern.
  • establishes a web-based public registry to report on activities and provide a forum for public consultations on SARA and related documents.

Rigid apple moss (c) Alan Hale

The SARA approach is:

  • to use the 'best available knowledge' in recovery planning.
  • to avoid delay of recovery actions for reasons of scientific uncertainty.
  • to support stewardship activities contributing to the conservation of species and their habitats.
  • to collaborate with provinces, territories, other federal departments, local governments, Aboriginal Peoples and other groups.
  • to recognize that compensation may be needed if an extraordinary impact occurs as a result of the application of critical habitat prohibitions.