An independent committee of experts considers which plants and animals should be listed as at risk. The Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO) consists of up to 12 members with expertise in scientific disciplines or community knowledge or Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge.

The Endangered Species Act gives the committee legal recognition and specific responsibilities:

  • Maintaining criteria for assessing and classifying species
  • Keeping a list of species that should be assessed and classified (or reclassified) in the future
  • Assessing, reviewing and classifying species
  • Submitting reports regarding the classification of species and providing advice to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks

COSSARO Membership

AGENCY MEMBERS BIOGRAPHIES (Click + to view members biographies.)

PARKS, DEREK (Deputy Chair)

Derek Parks is the President of Parks Environmental Inc. (est. 2010) and is a senior aquatic specialist with more than 30 years of field and assessment experience. Mr. Parks’ main focus and interests include Environmental Assessments, Species at Risk, Environmental Effects Monitoring (EEM) programs, fisheries and fish habitat, water-quality, environmental permitting, bioengineering and impact assessments. Educated with a M.Sc. of Biology (2003) from the University of Waterloo, a B.Sc. in Environmental Science\Biology from Trent University (1997); an Ecosystem Management Diploma (1996) and Geographic Information Systems Specialist Diploma (1997) from Sir Sandford Fleming College.


Allison Featherstone is an ecologist with LGL Limited environmental research associates, where she leads a team of ecologists, biologists and planners as part of the Senior Management Team. Allison was appointed to the LGL Limited Board of Directors in 2018. Since joining LGL in 2003, Allison has been involved with over 150 natural heritage investigations in support of infrastructure (water, wastewater, transportation), renewable and clean energy projects, comprehensive broad scale environmental studies and Environmental Assessments/Environmental Impact Statements. Allison’s community involvement includes participation as a member (2007-2018) and Chair (2014-2018) of the Region of Waterloo’s Ecological and Environmental Advisory Committee, where she also served as a member on the Region of Waterloo Technical Advisory Committee for Wastewater Master Plan, the Region of Waterloo Transportation Master Plan Stakeholder Advisory Committee, and the Climate Change Adaptation Committee.


Darren Sleep is Senior Director, Conservation Strategies at Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). His former employment includes roles as Project Leader, Forest Ecology at The National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI). Community involvement includes serving as Chair of the Survival and Recovery Working Group for the Species at Risk Advisory Committee (SARAC).


Glenn Cunnington is a Project Manager with the District Municipality of Muskoka. He has conducted wildlife research and monitoring for a variety of species throughout Ontario and has served as a member of the E. hog-nosed snake and E. Foxsnake Recover Teams. Prior to his employment at Riverstone, Dr. Cunnington was a Species at Risk Biologist, and a Permitting and Agreements Coordinator with the Ontario Public Service. Dr. Cunnington holds a Ph.D. from Carleton University, and a Master of Science degree from Trent University.


Toby Thorne grew up in the UK with a keen interest in natural history and studied biology at the University of Oxford. He moved to Canada in 2013 to pursue a research master’s degree, studying Ontario Bats. He has worked on a variety of bat focused projects. Toby lives in Toronto, and currently helps lead the Native Bat Conservation Program at the Toronto Zoo, focusing on filling knowledge gaps and raising public awareness of bats in the province. He is the author of a 2016 field guide to Ontario’s bat species.


Ian Barrett is a senior biologist and senior manager of Environmental Projects for Colville Consulting Inc. He is a former biologist for the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, an ecologist for Gartner Lee Limited and a habitat technician for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. Mr. Barrett holds a Fish and Wildlife Technologist Diploma from Sir Sandford Fleming College, a Bachelor of Science degree from Trent University and a Master of Science Degree from the University of Waterloo. Mr. Barrett is a former member for the Ontario Freshwater Fish Recovery Team and was involved in the development of the recover strategy for the Lake Chubsucker and the management plan for the Grass Pickerel.


Jillian deMan has 23 years of dedicated environmental experience as a Senior Ecologist with AECOM where she has worked on projects across Canada in the renewable mining, transportation, waste and water sectors. Her main role is facilitation of project approvals with respect to the Endangered Species Act. Ms. deMan has an undergraduate degree from Brock University in biological and earth sciences and is recognized as an expert in woodland and wetland restoration before the Environmental Review Tribunal. She is a life time member of the Field Botanists of Ontario and currently volunteers her time with The Owl Foundation.


Shannon Catton is a Senior Ecologist and Project Director for GEI Consultants, and a former Terrestrial Team Lead for Stantec Consulting. Shannon’s community involvement includes serving as a member for Priory Park Public School Council.

EPP, GARY (Member)

Gary Epp is the Practice Lead for Ecology for AECOM. He is directly responsible for the management and coordination of a team of ecologists. He is recognized as an expert in ecological assessment before the Ontario Municipal and Environmental Assessment Boards.


How to apply to join COSSARO

If you are interested in becoming a member of the committee, please see the agency details and how to apply sections of the Public Appointments Secretariat webpage.