The purposes of the Act are to prevent Canadian indigenous species, subspecies, and distinct populations from becoming extirpated or extinct, to provide for the recovery of endangered or threatened species, and encourage the management of other species to prevent them from becoming at risk.

More specifically, the Act will:

  • establish the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as an independent body of experts responsible for assessing and identifying species at risk;
  • require that the best available knowledge be used to define long and short-term objectives in a recovery strategy and action plan;
  • create prohibitions to protect listed threatened and endangered species and their critical habitat;
  • recognize that compensation may be needed to ensure fairness following the imposition of the critical habitat prohibitions;
  • create a public registry to assist in making documents under the Act more accessible to the public; and
  • be consistent with Aboriginal and treaty rights and respect the authority of other federal ministers and provincial governments.

SARA is a result of the implementation of the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy, which is in response to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. The Act provides federal legislation to prevent wildlife species from becoming extinct and to provide for their recovery.