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Part 4
Biodiversity Conservation in Canada



Role of Government in biodiversity protection
A government can be viewed as the steward of common property reserves managed in the public interest. Therefore, governments play a critical role in biodiversity conservation objectives, through conservation, protection, sustainable use and education measures.

Both the Canadian and Quebec governments have drafted biodiversity conservation strategies based on the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity. This section of the website will summarize the government strategies and the initiatives that have been undertaken to meet the goals of biodiversity conservation. (Gregory Thompson, pers. Comm.)

Industry efforts
While governments have a stewardship responsibility toward public lands, conservation efforts require the cooperation of many parties, including the public, industry and non-governmental organizations.

For example, primary extraction and manufacturing industries spent over 1.2 billion dollars on pollution control and abatement in 1989 to minimize the detrimental impact of their waste discharges on natural ecosystems. (Statistics Canada, 1994)


A timeline of biodiversity conservation in Canada

The Convention on Biological Diversity

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was the site of the 1992 Earth Summit. It was here that the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was signed by over 90% of United Nation member countries, Canada included. On December 29, 1993 the Convention officially came into force. This date is now celebrated as International Biodiversity Day.

What are the objectives of the CBD?

  • conservation of biological diversity;
  • sustainable use of biological resources; and
  • fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources.

The Convention on Biological Diversity set the stage for individual countries to assess the adequacy of current efforts to conserve biodiversity and sustainably use their biological resources and to determine how any protection gaps will be filled. (Environment Canada. 1994)


Biodiversity Science Assessment

In 1994, Environment Canada commissioned the Biodiversity Science Assessment to guide national effort to implement the Convention. The Science Assessment, published in 1994, analyzed the state of scientific knowledge of human impacts on biodiversity in Canada, the adequacy of Canada's system of protected areas and the state of socioeconomic evaluation of biodiversity.

The Assessment recommendations included: the establishment of more ecologically-sound forestry practices, the protection of non-crop habitat on farmland and the drafting of codes of practice for genetically-modified organisms. These findings helped direct the focus of the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy. (CBIN website, Biodiversity Science Assessment Team, 1994)


Canadian Biodiversity Strategy

Canada released the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy in 1995 as a guide to the implementation of the Biodiversity Convention in Canada. The Strategy was drafted by a working group of federal, provincial and territorial ministers in consultation with academia, industry and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). All provincial and territorial governments signed the Statement of Commitment to the Strategy. (Canadian Biodiversity Information Network)

The Strategy recognizes existing resposibilities, both constitutional and legislative, for biodiversity in Canada. It stresses the importance of cooperation between all levels of government to carry out necessary research and create sound conservation and management programs. And the Strategy emphasizes the need for cooperation between governments, stakeholders and the public to implement the directions of the Strategy.

In addition to these goals is a commitment that governments and indigenous communities will work together to develop an interpretation of the Convention that relates to specific needs of native people.

The five main goals of the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy are:

Goal #1: To conserve biodiversity and use biological resources sustainably;
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Goal #2: To improve understanding of ecosystems and increase our resource management capability;
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Goal #3: To promote education and awareness of the need to conserve biodiversity and use biological resources in a sustainable manner;
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Goal #4: To maintain or develop legislation and incentives to support conservation of biodiversity and sustainable resource use;
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Goal #5: To work with other countries to conserve biodiversity and share equitably benefits incurred from use of genetic resources.
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(Canadian Biodiversity Information Network)


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Part 3: Biodiversity Conservation in Quebec