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Part 4
Biodiversity Conservation in Canada - Page 6


Goal #5: International cooperation

Successful biodiversity conservation efforts require international agreements because wildlife and pollution do not respect political boundaries. Canada's populations of wildlife are also residents of the United States and Mexico, Central and South America and other circumpolar countries. Therefore the fifth goal of the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy seeks to establish cooperative efforts at the international level to protect species and habitat biodiversity.

Canada has been very active internationally in support of the CBD.

  • It has co-sponsored workshops and symposia in Costa Rica, Chile, and Cote d'Ivoire.
  • It has participated in and hosted meetings of the UNEP Expert Panels, and has played an active role in the two meetings of the Inter-governmental Committee for the CBD.
  • At the first two meetings of the Conference of the Parties (COP) in the Bahamas and Indonesia respectively, Canada co-hosted a Biodiversity Technology Fair.
  • Through the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, Canada has entered into cooperative biodiversity programs with its NAFTA partners.
  • The Canadian Museum of Nature is assisting other countries in the production of biodiversity country studies.
  • Finally, Canada is collaborating in an OECD project to develop biodiversity indicators, and with Germany, Australia, and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre on the creation of an international Clearing House Mechanism for scientific and technical information exchange.

Some of the international protection agreements of which Canada is an active participant are discussed below.


The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, also known as the RAMSAR Convention, was named after the city in Iran where the text was first adopted in 1971 with the cooperation of 18 nations. The Convention is a treaty that provides the framework for international cooperation for the conservation of the World's wetland habitats. As of mid-1995, 84 nation states comprised the Contracting Parties to the Convention worldwide. (The Wetlands Network)

Where are Canada's RAMSAR sites?
RAMSAR sites.gif As of 1996, there were 33 designated RAMSAR sites across Canada.



Known as CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora entered into force on July 1, 1975 and now has a membership of 143 countries. These countries act by banning commercial international trade in an agreed list of endangered species and by regulating and monitoring trade in others that might become endangered. (CITES website)

Many species are declining in number because of loss of habitat and increased exploitation as human populations grow. Trade has now also become a major factor in the decline as improvement in transport facilities has made it possible to ship live animals and plants and their products anywhere in the world.

The wildlife trade is a highly lucrative business and involves a wide variety of species, both as live specimens and as products. Millions of animals and plants are traded each year to supply the demand for pets and ornamental plants. Furs, leather and timber, and articles manufactured from these materials are all traded in large quantities. (CITES website)


UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Recognizing that the world's cultural and natural heritage transcends national boundaries and must be preserved for future generations, the Member States of UNESCO in 1972, unanimously adopted a Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, known in short as the World Heritage Convention. As of July 1997, 150 states had adhered to the convention. Canada adhered in 1976.

The Convention provides for:

  • Establishment of a World Heritage Committee.
  • Compilation of a World Heritage List to include cultural and natural properties throughout the world that are considered to be of outstanding universal value according to criteria drawn up by the World Heritage Committee. As of July 1997, the committee, comprised of experts in cultural and natural conservation from 21 states, had named 506 sites to the List.
  • Preparation of a List of World Heritage in Danger.
  • Establishment of a World Heritage Fund to provide aid to Member States for World Heritage Sites. Each state adhering to the Convention pays one per cent of its contribution to the Regular Budget of UNESCO to the World Heritage Fund.
  • Provision of technical and emergency assistance, upon request, to Member States.
  • General promotion throughout the world of the importance of heritage conservation.

(Parks Canada Website)

Which are the Canadian World Heritage sites?


As of 1996, Canada had 12 designated World Heritage Sites.

In Quebec, the old district of Quebec City has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage District

(Parks Canada Website)

UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserves

UNESCO launched the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) program in 1971 with the goal of improving human involvement with nature, in ways which satisfy human needs and support the long term health of the natural system.

The program was divided into 14 sub-themes such as mountain ecosystems, tropical ecosystems, etc. The largest of the sub-programs focus on the conservation of genetic material in key ecosystems around the world; areas which UNESCO designates as biosphere reserves. (Canada MAB Website)

Which are Canada's MAB reserves?

Canada currently has six designated MAB reserves as well as 1 more being proposed.

(Canada MAB Website)


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