Prepared by Geri Poisson and Margot Ursic

The Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) requires the Minister of Natural Resources to ensure recovery strategies are prepared for all species listed as endangered or threatened on the Species at Risk in Ontario (SARO) List. Under the ESA, a recovery strategy may incorporate all or part of an existing plan that relates to that species.

Butternut is listed as endangered on the SARO List. The species is also listed as endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). Environment Canada prepared the Recovery Strategy for the Butternut in Canada in 2010 to meet its requirements under the SARA. This recovery strategy is hereby adopted under the ESA. With the additions indicated below, the enclosed strategy meets all of the content requirements outlined in the ESA.

It is recommended that the area considered in developing a habitat regulation for Butternut include a minimum radius of 25 m from the base of the stem of the tree, irrespective of the tree’s size. Given what is currently known about Butternut canker (the disease that is the primary reason that the species is endangered), and Butternut as a species, regulating a minimum radius of 25 m around each tree is an appropriate approach for trying to ensure that:

  • the habitat conditions required for the survival of each tree can be maintained, including area for the potential growth of trees that may survive to maturity; and
  • habitat for regeneration that occurs within this radius is also protected.

It is further recommended that the habitat regulation be applied strictly to Butternut trees that are healthy footnote 1 (i.e., they are not affected by Butternut canker to such a degree that they are considered "non-retainable", as determined by a qualified Butternut Health Assessor and/or Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources) and are:

  • naturally-occurring (i.e., that are not planted); or
  • planted as a requirement of a permit issued under section 17 of the ESA, or are progeny of trees that were planted to satisfy such a requirement (e.g., for overall benefit or as part of an approved planting plan).

It is also recommended that areas covered by impervious surfaces (e.g., paved roads, sidewalks, buildings) as a result of existing and approved land uses, be excluded from the regulated area.

If, in the future, new scientific evidence indicates that regulation of additional habitat areas may reasonably contribute to achieving the recovery goals for Butternut, then this information should be considered in developing or revising the habitat regulation.

Executive summary

Prepared by Environment Canada

Butternut (Juglans cinerea L.) is a species of tree designated as Endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and was listed in July 2005 as Endangered on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) in Canada. Butternut is an uncommon but widely distributed species that occurs in central and eastern North America. In the past 40 years butternut has undergone serious declines, primarily due to a non-native fungal pathogen which causes a fatal stem and branch disease known as butternut canker (Sirococcus clavigignenti-juglandacearum, N.B. Nair, Kostichka & Kuntz). Butternut canker is currently known to exist throughout the range of butternut in Ontario and Quebec, with limited distribution, at present, in New Brunswick. The fundamental threat and principal one noted within the COSEWIC Status Report (Nielsen et al. 2003) is butternut canker. In some provinces, additional pressures on the landscape compound the threat of the canker whereas in others, those threats are not significant at the population level.

There are unknowns regarding the feasibility of recovery of the butternut. These unknowns relate to whether there are trees in Canada which are resistant to the butternut canker. Therefore, in keeping with the precautionary principle, a recovery strategy has been prepared as per section 41(1) of SARA, as would be done when recovery is determined to be feasible. This recovery strategy addresses the unknowns surrounding the feasibility of recovery. The long-term recovery goal (>20 years) for butternut is to ensure conditions that will allow for the restoration of viable, ecologically functioning, and broadly distributed populations within its current range in Canada. Short-term objectives are:

  1. By 2011, develop stewardship and outreach products informing Canadians of the identification, conservation status, conservation mechanisms and management of butternut and on the identification, assessment and management of butternut canker.
  2. By 2012, collect information on the distribution, abundance and status of butternut and its health across its range in Canada and make it available in a National Database Management System (that is compatible with existing regional Conservation Data Centres).
  3. By 2014, identify local populations of butternut across its native range and maintain them through focused stewardship in order to increase the likelihood of finding individuals which show resistance to the canker (due to environmental or genetic factors, or a combination thereof).
  4. By 2014, where the disease is widespread, select, graft and archive at least ten putatively resistant trees in each ecodistrict in support of a future breeding and/or vegetative propagation program to produce resistant trees for restoration, and in support of future critical habitat identification.
  5. By 2019, address priority knowledge gaps and research necessary for implementing recovery activities (including research into disease resistance and level of adaptive genetic variation, as well as environmental factors that limit the spread of the disease).

The recovery strategy has a strong outreach and stewardship approach and stresses research activities, inventory and monitoring across the butternut range. This strategy emphasizes national and international cooperation, to alleviate redundancy and facilitate sharing of recovery solutions. Where possible, the recovery strategy should be integrated into the management plans of protected areas in which the species occurs and into broader scale conservation and restoration initiatives across New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec.

Critical habitat is not identified in the recovery strategy. A schedule of studies to gather the information required to identify critical habitat is included.