Habitat and Species (Annex 7)

The Habitat and Species Annex focuses on native species of plants and animals, and their habitats. Pictured above, the Monarch butterfly and purple coneflower are native to the Great Lakes prairie ecosystem. Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Habitat and Species Annex focuses on native species of plants and animals, and their habitats. Pictured above, the Monarch butterfly and purple coneflower are native to the Great Lakes prairie ecosystem. Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Through the Habitat and Species Annex of the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, Canada and the United States have committed to:

“… contribute to the achievement of the General and Specific Objectives of this Agreement by conserving, protecting, maintaining, restoring and enhancing the resilience of native species and their habitat, as well as by supporting essential ecosystem services.”

Key Commitments

The United States and Canada agree to:

  • Conduct a baseline survey of the existing habitat against which to establish a Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem target of net habitat gain and measure future progress;
  • Within two years, complete the development and begin implementation of lakewide habitat and species protection and restoration conservation strategies;
  • Assess gaps in current binational and domestic programs and initiatives to conserve, protect, maintain, restore and enhance native species and habitat as a first step toward the development of a binational framework for prioritizing activities;
  • Facilitate binational collaborative actions to reduce the loss of native species and habitat, recover populations of native species at risk, and restore degraded habitat;
  • Renew and strengthen binational collaborative actions to conserve, protect, maintain, restore and enhance native species and habitat;
  • Increase awareness of native species and habitat and the methods to protect, conserve, maintain, restore and enhance their resilience; and
  • Conduct research and monitoring as needed to implement prevention measures that consider the impacts of climate change and other stressors and improve the resilience of native species and habitat.

For additional information on the focus of actions under this Annex, consult the current Priorities for Science and Action. The Priorities are based on an evaluation of the State of the Great Lakes, with input from the Great Lakes Executive Committee, participants at the Great Lakes Public Forum, and recommendations of the International Joint Commission.

Every six months, progress on this annex is reported at the Great Lakes Executive Committee meetings. Accomplishments will be described in the Progress Report of the Parties every three years, with the first expected in 2016. Aspects of this annex may be implemented and reported on through the Lakewide Management Annex.

Implementation

This annex is implemented by a subcommittee co-led by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Organizations represented include:

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Great Lakes Fishery Commission
  • Indiana Department of Environmental Management
  • Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
  • Parks Canada
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • U.S. National Parks Service
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

An extended subcommittee involves additional organizations and experts beyond the GLEC membership.

As required, time-limited task teams will be created to focus efforts on a priority issue or project, and will be disbanded when work is complete. Currently, the Habitat and Species Annex has task teams that focus on:

Task Team Purpose
Baseline-Net Gain Develop an approach to inventory existing surveys of habitats and species and develop recommendations for establishing targets for net habitat gain based on information in the lakewide Biodiversity Conservation Strategies, Lake Ecosystem Objectives, existing programs and supporting science.