Goal #1: Conservation of biodiversity and sustainable resource use
management of biological resources falls primarily within provincial jurisdictions.
This gives the provinces primary responsibility in protection and conservation
of wildlife and habitats.
some components of wildlife is maintained by the federal government
such as migratory birds, fish, marine mammals, federal protected
areas and wildlife trade. The federal government also
has a role in the development of forestry and agricultural practices
that affect biodiversity. These responsibilities are met through
the drafting and implementation of legislation and conservation
programs and through cooperative programs with the provinces and
territories, other countries, aboriginal groups, conservation
organizations and the private sector.
The federal government
has prepared a number of reports detailing how they intend to
meet the goals of the strategy with regards to wildlife, aquatic
ecosystems, protected areas and with regards to the forestry and
agricultural sectors. This section of the website borrows strongly
from these reports.
The annex to the report
Caring for Canada's Biodiversity: Canada's First National Report
to the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological
Diversity (Biodiversity Convention Office) includes an inventory
of initiatives to address conservation of biodiversity at the
national level. (Environment
In 1990, the Wildlife
Policy for Canada was drafted to provide a framework to ensure
sustainable use of wildlife and to maintain and restore biodiversity
and ecological processes.
is responsible for the management and conservation of migratory
birds and wildlife species of national concern, particularly species
at risk, although valuable contributions have been made by other
federal departments and sectors of the community as well.
A significant number of
programs have been implemented
to maintain or restore wild populations of native flora and fauna.
These include programs to manage species or populations that are harvested
for commercial, recreational and subsistence purposes, to ensure their
sustainable use. For a more detailed list of these programs, we refer
the reader to the Environment Canada report entitled Conserving
Wildlife Diversity: Implementing the Canadian
There is particular
emphasis on protecting species that are in danger of extinction
because of human activity. The Committee on the Status of Endangered
Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) is a federally-appointed body of
experts that designates species at risk in Canada. See the section
below on COSEWIC for a more in-depth discussion. The Recovery
of Nationally Endangered Wildlife (RENEW) was established in 1988
by a committee of government and non-governemtn members to focus
on the recovery of extirpated, threatened and endangered species.
restoration endeavors often involve landscape-level management
at the regional scale and the combined effort of many partners.
Such regional programs include the St. Lawrence Vision 2000 plan
to monitor and protect the species and habitat quality of the
St. Lawrence River.
The establishment of
Protected Areas is an important component to protecting Canada's
The Statement of Commitment
to complete Canada's Network of Protected Areas was signed by federal,
provincial and territorial environment ministers in 1992. The commitments
included completion of the network of terrestrial protected areas
by the year 2000 and an accelerated completion of network of marine
protected areas. See the section below on protected areas for a more
In Canada, the
federal government has authority over ocean and marine biological resources.
Canada has begun intergated management of activities in estuarine, coastal
and marine ecosystems, in recognition that marine resources are not
immune to effects from land-based activities (see also the Canada Oceans
Act under Goal #4).
In development is the National
Program of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from
Land-based sources of Marine Pollution, which was to be completed
in late 1998. This program will be implemented as a partnership between
all levels of government and various stakeholders. The priority areas
of concern with regard to alteration and destruction of habitats include:
habitats of endangered species, shorelines, coastal watersheds, estuaries,
marine protected areas and small islands.
Canada has also established
an action plan with Arctic nations to address arctic marine pollution.
The St. Lawrence Vision
2000 initiative is an example of a joint effort between the governments
of Canada and Quebec to protect and conserve the St. Lawrence River.
Key areas of the plan include the reduction of toxic discharges into
the river, wildlife habitat conservation and increased citizen involvement
in river management. As well, the
Canadian Wildlife Service , in conjunction with the St.
Lawrence Center, is preparing an atlas on the biodiversity of
the St. Lawrence river and its shorelines.
in the Forestry Sector
Within the sectors
that depend on biological resources, it is essential to develop
sustainable management and development strategies to ensure that
resources are protected. There are a number of concerns regarding
conservation of biodiversity and forestry, including habitat fragmentation
and loss, wildlife species at risk, protected areas, conservation
and exchange of forest genetic resources and climate change and
acceptable methods of valuing and measuring biodiversity.
The Canadian Forestry
Service has prepared a biodiversity action plan outlining its
commitment to the goal of the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy
(Natural Resources Canada, 1997)
with a view to the above concerns.
Canada developed a National Forest Strategy where biodiversity
conservation and sustainable use were dominant themes. Among the ac
tions undertaken, the following were deemed as critically necessary
and are currently being developed:
- Completion of an ecological
classification of forest lands
- Completion of a network
of protected areas representative of Canada's forests
- Establishing forest
of a system of national indicators of sustainable forest management.
Forestry Service website)
in the Agricultural Sector
Approximately 7% of
Canada's land base is under some form of agricultural production.
Agricultural activities impact natural ecosystems although agriculture
can, in some cases, also help maintain and enhance populations
of wild flora and fauna. In view of this, Agriculture and Agri-food
Canada has prepared a biodiversity action plan that details its
commitment to the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy (Agriculture
and Agri-Food Canada, 1997). Initiatives include the
management of croplands and rangelands to maximize both wildlife
habitat and forage production, the enhancement of riparian ecosystems
and wood lots to provide suitable habitat for native plants and
wildlife, soil conservation techniques such as the planting of
local genetic varieties of crops and the use of shelterbelts and
hedgerows to minimize topsoil loss, and conservation of genetic
diversity of plant species. (AAFC,
with aboriginal groups
A number of co-management
boards have been established, composed of representatives of Aboriginal
communities and government appointees.
- Within the Northwest
Territories and Yukon, these boards have become the main instruments
of wildlife management in land claim areas. Through the Nunavut
Wildlife Management Board, Inuit of the Northwest Territories'
eastern areas co-manage wildlife in what will become the Nunavut
Territory. In existence since 1982, the Beverly-Qamanirjuaq Caribou
Management Board is an excellent example of incorporation of traditional
knowledge into the political process.
- The BC government
has appointed a 19-member panel comprised of scientists and Nuu-Chah-Nulth
elders to study ways of changing management practices in old-growth
forests around Clayoquot Sound.
- Parks Canada and the
Inuvialuit of the Western Arctic are working together on a Management
Plan for Aulavik National Park on Banks Island.
- The Quebec government
has prepared a list of parks, ecological reserves, and wildlife
management activities for its northern regions that will involve
Aboriginal communities. In 1994, the government and the Montagnais
concluded an agreement for the co-management of the Louis-Babel
on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC)
Canada currently does not
have an Endangered Species Act. There
is a federally-appointed task force whose mandate it is to develop a
national listing of species at risk in Canada. The Committee on the
Status of Endangered Wildlife In Canada (COSEWIC) is comprised of federal,
provincial and territorial wildlife officials, as well as representatives
from major NGOs like the Canadian Nature Federation and the World Wildlife
The primary mandate
of COSEWIC is to determine species that are at risk of decline,
based on the best scientific evidence available, for vertebrates, invertebrates
(only molluscs and lepidoptera), plants and lichens. Species are listed
in the following categories: extinct, extirpated, endangered,
threatened and vulnerable.
Status is assigned
on the basis of consensus arrived at by voting members of COSEWIC
present at the annual meeting. Designations are frequently based
on considerable discussion of data presented in the status reports
prepared by the subcommittees. Once status designations are made,
it is up to the respective provincial and territorial jurisdictions
where the species occurs to take whatever actions are appropriate
to address the threats and limiting factors placing a species
at risk. COSEWIC has no legislative or management role.
There are now 307 species
on the List of Canadian Wildlife at Risk. Fifty-eight of these species
are found in Quebec. Click here
to see the list of COSEWIC species at risk in Quebec.
Establishment of a system
of protected areas is an important step in the conservation of biodiversity.
Ideally, protected areas should be high-quality (i.e. little human intervention)
cores connected by corridors, surrounded by a buffer zone of compatible
land use. This allows for complete ecosystem protection, for the flow
of genes and individuals between ecosystems and for protection of species
from dangers immediately outside the protected area. For instance, laying
a road directly outside a protected area for large mammals creates a
high risk of mortality for these animals as soon as they wander outside
the boundaries of the protected area.
(Science Assessment, 1994)
status of protected areas
Canada has been protecting
sites for various conservation purposes for over a century. It
is important to evaluate if this current protection scheme is
adequate and to adopt measures to make it complete. Presently,
Canada has over 2800 protected areas, excluding private lands
and cultural heritage sites. Sixty-one percent are strictly protected,
but 80% are smaller than 10 km2. Of the 177 terrestrial ecoregions
, 67 have no protected areas, and 14 of these ecosystems are at
high risk of biodiversity loss. In 88 others, the protected areas
occupy less than 12% of the land.
In addition, freshwater and
marine ecosystems are a socal point for human establishment, making
them vulnerable to human impact. For instance, over 90% of the wetland
and estuarine habitat in Canada has been lost to drainage and conversion.
to establishing network of protected areas
There are a number
of challenges to establishing such a protected areas network.
Protected areas are established through many different means in
Canada. There are independent federal, provincial and territorial
systems with a mix of levels of protection and in various stages
In the management
of protected areas for biodiversity conservation, the goals are
difficult to define, including concepts like "ecological integrity"
and "ecosystem health". Management is made difficult, in many
cases, by insufficient information on the ecosystems involved.
Long-term monitoring of
the ecosystems to evaluate the effects of management and other changes
is rarely done (but see section on Monitoring).
As well, it is difficult
to agree on what is considered as compatible land use in regions
surrounding protected areas because land use decision-making bodies
were not established with biodiversity conservation as a priority.
As a result, it is very difficult to delineate buffer zones and
linkages between protected areas.
Protected Areas Initiatives: Canada's National Park System Plan
In the 1970's, Parks Canada
devised a parks system
whose fundamental principle was to protect a representative sample
of each of Canada's landscapes. Canada was then divided into 39 representative
terrestrial "National Park Natural Regions" based on the appearance
of the land and on vegetation. The goal of the System Plan is that
by the year 2000 each natural region should be represented by a National
Park. When the system is complete, it will cover about 3% of Canada
(currently covers 2.25%). (National
Park System Plan, 1997)
National parks are
a special category of public lands administered by the federal
government under the provisions of the National Parks Act. They are
a crucial component of Canada's sustainable development strategy
and help to:
- preserve representative
samples of Canada's landscapes free of industrial development;
critical wildlife habitat;
- provide scientific
benchmarks for measuring the impact of human changes to ecosystems;
- contribute to economic
diversification and social evolution of local communities;
- draw tourists from
other nations to contribute to Canada s growing ecotourism sector;
- protect lands for
traditional uses by aboriginal communities;
- help fulfil Canada's
international obligations to protect our biological diversity;
- inspire park visitors
to develop an appreciation for wild ecosystems and to practice
environmental actions at home.
To date, 24 of the 39 natural
regions are represented by 38 national parks. Four more natural regions
have lands that have been reserved for national parks. The gaps in
the park system are in the Northwest Territories, Quebec, Labrador,
Manitoba and B.C. The marine parks system has only 3 out of 29 natural
areas protected. (National
Park System Plan,1997)
Protected Areas Initiatives: Endangered Spaces Campaign
Spaces Campaign, introduced by WWF and endorsed by Canada's 13 senior
governments, has as its goal to establish a network of protected areas
representing all of Canada's natural regions. This campaign is discussed
in greater detail in the section on Species
protection versus landscape protection. This
campaign was endorsed by the federal, provincial and territorial governments.