Warning This Web page has been archived on the Web.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards, as per the Policy on Communications and Federal Identity.

Skip booklet index and go to page content

Amended Recovery Strategy and Management Plan for Multiple Species of Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora in Canada - 2015 [Proposed]


Appendix 3 : Definitions of Terms and Risk Categories

Species at Risk Act (SARA)

SARA is one part of a three part Government of Canada strategy for the protection of wildlife species at risk.  It complements existing laws and agreements to provide for the legal protection of wildlife species and conservation of biological diversity.

Extinct: A species that no longer exists.
Extirpated: A species no longer existing in the wild in Canada, but occurring elsewhere.
Endangered - A species facing imminent extirpation or extinction.
Threatened - A species likely to become endangered if limiting factors are not reversed.
Special Concern - A species of special concern because of characteristics that make it particularly sensitive to human activities or natural events (formerly 'vulnerable').

Nova Scotia Endangered Species Act

Provincially listed species assessments are conducted by the NS Species at Risk Working Group and are based on a process similar to that used by COSEWIC.  However, a provincial context - as opposed to a national context - is considered and therefore a species' provincial status can differ from that assigned by COSEWIC.  Protection is afforded to a provincially listed species under the NS Endangered Species Act (NS ESA).

Extinct: A species that no longer exists.
Extirpated: A species that no longer exists in the wild in the Province but exists in the wild outside the Province.
Endangered - A species facing imminent extinction or extirpation.
Threatened - A species that is likely to become endangered if the factors affecting its vulnerability are not reversed.
Vulnerable - A species of special concern due to characteristics that make it particularly sensitive to human activities or natural events.

Canada and Nova Scotia General Status Ranks

Canada General Status Ranks provide a coarse-scale picture of the national general status of species in Canada. The National General Status Working Group assigns Canada General Status Ranks by thoroughly reviewing the ranks and associated information from provinces, territories, and ocean regions. General status ranks are used by COSEWIC to help prioritize species for detailed status assessments. Nova Scotia participates in the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) and provincial rankings share the same definitions as the Canada General Status Ranks but are relevant to the province rather than all of Canada. Colour rank equivalents used by the Nova Scotia government are given in brackets after the given Canada General Status Rank.

Extinct (Blue) - Species that are extirpated worldwide (i.e., they no longer exist anywhere).

Extirpated (Blue in NS) - Species that are no longer present in a given geographic area, but occur in other areas.

At Risk (Red in NS) - Species for which a formal, detailed risk assessment (COSEWIC status assessment or provincial or territorial equivalent) has been completed and that have been determined to be at risk of extirpation or extinction (i.e. Endangered or Threatened). A COSEWIC designation of Endangered or Threatened automatically results in a Canada General Status Rank (Canada rank) of At Risk. Where a provincial or territorial formal risk assessment finds a species to be Endangered or Threatened in that particular region, then, under the general status program, the species automatically receives a provincial or territorial general status rank of At Risk.

May Be At Risk (Red in NS)- Species that may be at risk of extirpation or extinction and are therefore candidates for a detailed risk assessment by COSEWIC, or provincial or territorial equivalents.

Sensitive (Yellow in NS) - Species that are not believed to be at risk of immediate extirpation or extinction but may require special attention or protection to prevent them from becoming at risk.

Secure (Green in NS) - Species that are not believed to belong in the categories Extirpated, Extinct, At Risk, May Be At Risk, Sensitive, Accidental or Exotic. This category includes some species that show a trend of decline in numbers in Canada but remain relatively widespread or abundant.

Undetermined - Species for which insufficient data, information, or knowledge is available with which to reliably evaluate their general status.

Not Assessed - Species that are known or believed to be present regularly in the geographic area in Canada to which the rank applies, but have not yet been assessed by the general status program.

Exotic - Species that have been moved beyond their natural range as a result of human activity.

Accidental - Species occurring infrequently and unpredictably, outside their usual range.

General Status Rankings of the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (NS DNR)

General Status rankings for Nova Scotia have the same definitions as those listed above but have an alternate colour name as noted in brackets above. Both the At Risk and May Be At Risk have a Red colour rank because the difference in those two statuses is a technical one related only to whether a status report has been prepared.

The Nature Conservancy and Conservation Data Centre's Ranking System

A standardised element ranking system that has evolved over 23 years with input from hundreds of scientists is used by the Nature Conservancy and the Conservation Data Centres. The ranks are assigned by committees of experts, the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre, and provincial biologists.

National (N-Ranks) and Subnational (S-Ranks or Provincial Level) Ranks

N1/S1 Critically imperiled - Critically imperiled in the nation or state/province because of extreme rarity (often 5 or fewer occurrences) or because of some factor(s) such as very steep declines making it especially vulnerable to extirpation from the state/province.

N2/S2 Imperiled - Imperiled in the nation or state/province because of rarity due to very restricted range, very few populations (often 20 or fewer), steep declines, or other factors making it very vulnerable to extirpation from the nation or state/province.

N3/S3 Vulnerable - Vulnerable in the nation or state/province due to a restricted range, relatively few populations (often 80 or fewer), recent and widespread declines, or other factors making it vulnerable to extirpation.

N4/S4 Apparently Secure - Uncommon but not rare; some cause for long-term concern due to declines or other factors.

Top of Page