We have some exciting news! You may have read in our latest blog or seen a few hints in recent posts that WPC has partnered with African Lion Safari to create the Canadian Species Initiative or CSI. Given the biodiversity crisis that is currently being faced worldwide, Canada has recently committed to reversing biodiversity loss by 2030, so now more than ever is the time for an all hands on deck approach to conservation planning that considers all available options. Further highlighting this need, the International Union on the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently passed a policy to link in situ and ex situ conservation measures to save threatened species. CSI’s goal is to strengthen endangered species recovery planning and implementation in Canada by ensuring that all possible management options are considered.

Woodland Caribou  Photo: Cody Ross

The IUCN’s Conservation Planning Specialist Group (CPSG) has developed the One Plan Approach which promotes the joint development of management strategies and conservation actions by ALL responsible parties and employs the IUCN’s Guidelines on the Use of Ex Situ Management for Species Conservation to assist in identifying WHEN and HOW ex situ management can contribute to species recovery. CPSG’s One Plan Approach ensures that all available management techniques are considered and applied strategically to complement field conservation efforts and prevent further loss of species (McGowan et al. 2017).

Eastern massasauga rattlesnake Photo: Mike Kent

As CPSG’s Canadian Regional Resource Centre, CSI is promoting and applying the One Plan Approach and proven conservation planning processes, such as integrated participatory workshops. Next year, CSI will host the first in a series of workshops to evaluate conservation needs of Canadian wildlife species, starting with all Canadian snakes. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada has assessed that 60% of snake species are at some level of risk and and there is great opportunity to advance snake conservation in Canada through this process. The upcoming workshop will bring in situ and ex situ communities together to identify which snake species would benefit most from ex-situ actions, design ex situ efforts to effectively serve the conservation needs of those species, and assist Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums with setting conservation priorities.

Additional CSI projects are underway with loggerhead shrike and woodland caribou. The emphasis is on holistic, integrated, multi-stakeholder planning and implementation that considers the social, cultural, and economic needs of local people to create more effective actions for species conservation. When local stakeholders help create the action plan themselves, they are much more likely to implement it!

Eastern loggerhead shrike Photo: Larry Kirtley

Through science-based, inclusive, and participatory planning processes, CSI is striving to ensure that all possible management options are considered and the most effective methods of addressing Canadian species conservation needs are implemented. The Canadian Species Initiative will ensure the ex-situ management needs of Canadian species at risk are identified and met by applying the One Plan Approach to Canadian species recovery. We are excited to be embarking on this journey and welcome you to follow along at www.canadianspeciesinitiative.ca!


McGowan PJK, Traylor-Holzer K, Leus K. (2017) IUCN Guidelines for Determining When and How Ex Situ Management Should Be Used in Species Conservation. Conservation Letters 10(3): 361-366. https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12285 (Guidelines themselves available online at: https://www.cbsg.org/sites/cbsg.org/files/documents/IUCN_SSC_ex_situ_guidelines_FINAL.pdf)

Stephanie Winton

Canada’s New Noah and Species Conservation Planning Assistant – Canadian Species Initiative

Stephanie is the 31st Canada’s New Noah and is currently assisting the Canadian Species Initiative to build capacity for species conservation planning in Canada. Stephanie holds a master’s degree in conservation biology from Thompson Rivers University where she studied the impacts of road mortality on a threatened rattlesnake species. She has extensive experience working in conservation and research for species at risk reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds in Western Canada.