|Abstract||This report was prepared further to Canada's commitments as a Party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Canada was the first developed country to ratify the Convention and has been the
proud host of the Convention's Secretariat since it was established in 1996. |
Biodiversity in Canada
The national Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010 assessment report identified 22 key findings related to the health of ecosystems in Canada.
These are summarized in Figure 1 on the following page and detailed further in Chapter I. Additional, recent information highlighted in Chapter I includes:
- Changes in Canada's Arctic ecosystems include changes in the extent of Arctic summer sea
ice, affecting species such as polar bears that depend on sea ice as habitat, and greening of Arctic tundra ecosystems. A greening trend is also occurring along the northern treeline.
- Over the last two decades, the annual rate of deforestation
in Canada has declined. This trend is expected to continue but at a slower pace.
- Between 1990 and 2008, about 1,000 square kilometres (km2) of land was converted from non-forest land (such as abandoned cropland) to forest.
acidification remains an issue in parts of Canada. Although sulphate levels in Ontario Lakes declined following action by Canada and the United States to reduce air emissions, the recovery of lake pH levels has been slow and less widespread, and
calcium levels in many lakes are below or approaching the threshold needed to keep lake ecosystems healthy.
- There are about 70,000 known species in Canada and likely tens of thousands more which have not yet been identified. Most (77%) of the
nearly 12,000 species assessed in Canada in 2010 are considered "Secure", but 12% are considered to be "at Risk" or "May be at Risk", while the remaining 11% are "Sensitive".
- Over 400 bird species breed in Canada each year. Since the 1970s,
breeding bird populations have decreased on average by 12%. Some birds (such as grassland birds and shorebirds) have decreased dramatically, while others (such as waterfowl) have increased.
- Trends in populations of sub Arctic terrestrial birds
increased between 1970 and 1994 and then decreased before returning to 1970 levels in 2007.
- Improved understanding of the population status of boreal caribou and Peary caribou is supporting recovery planning and management, including under the
federal Species at Risk Act.
- Since 2007, the levels of contaminants such as persistent organic pollutants and mercury have generally declined or remained stable in seabirds and lake trout.
- Marine litter is posing a growing threat to
seabirds, as well as other marine species.
- Focused efforts to better understand the genetic diversity of wildlife species such as the american black bear and native forest tree species are helping inform wildlife and resource management.
The emergence of White Nose Syndrome is endangering several of Canada's bat species.
- Of the 155 major wild fish stocks assessed in 2012, 148 (95%) were harvested at levels considered to be sustainable.
- Across the country, timber is
being harvested at rates more than 30% below the wood supply considered to mark the sustainable limit.
- Built-up areas in and around cities and towns in southern Canada increased over the past decade as a result of the transformation of cropland
and forests to built-up areas.
- More than 150 invasive plants were introduced and established in Canada between 1800 and 1900; since the 1900s, introduction rates have slowed to about one species every two years.
- Recent data indicate that
glacier mass continues to decrease and permafrost temperatures in Canada's North continue to increase.
- The first bloom day of Alberta plants advanced by about two days per decade between 1939 and 2006.
- Ecosystem services assessment is a
rapidly growing and evolving field in Canada, with many reports released in recent years by both government and non-government researchers. Accounting for how changes in ecosystem services affect socio-economic well-being is the purpose of many
assessments. Canadian researchers are currently working to clarify practical approaches for assessing the cultural implications of changes to ecosystem services.
Implementation and Mainstreaming of Biodiversity Conservation
provides an overview of recent actions in Canada to support biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. The Canadian Biodiversity Strategy and the complementary Biodiversity Outcomes Framework still guide the implementation of the Convention in
Canada. In response to the 2011-2020 Strategic Plan, proposed biodiversity goals and targets for Canada have been drafted and, once adopted, will further focus action and help track progress.
Since 2009, the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec have
introduced biodiversity strategies, and the Province of Alberta is currently finalizing a biodiversity policy. Manitoba integrated biodiversity-related commitments into its latest strategic plan for the province. At the federal level, the 2013-16
Federal Sustainable Development Strategy details actions for protecting nature, and a proposed National Conservation Plan will further support results.
Canada's protected areas system grew by over 87,000 km2 between 2009 and 2013. Investments in
partnerships like the Natural Areas Conservation Program enabled the protection of over 3,690 km2 of ecologically significant land in southern Canada between 2007 and 2012. Canadian governments and conservation organizations are collaborating to
develop guidance on identifying and reporting on "other effective area-based conservation measures". Integrated planning at the landscape level and in the marine context is also advancing in several regions of Canada.
Work continues at all levels
to assess the status of wild species and recover species at risk. Several jurisdictions, including the Northwest Territories, New Brunswick, Manitoba, and British Columbia have strengthened or updated legislation and policies for protecting wildlife
and recovering species at risk. Governments are applying an ecosystem approach to species recovery through joint federal-provincial stewardship initiatives in areas like the South of the Divide in southwestern Saskatchewan. The federal government and
several provincial governments, including Ontario, continue to offer funding support to local, community and Aboriginal organizations to enable stewardship actions.
Numerous efforts to conserve and enhance Canada's wetlands are underway. Over
80,000 km2 of wetlands have been retained in Canada through the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP), including nearly 10,000 km2 between 2009 and 2012; another 238,046 km2 of wetlands were managed or restored under the plan during the
same period. At the sub-national level, the Province of Alberta recently introduced a wetlands policy, which provides the strategic direction and tools to support informed wetland management decisions.
Nationally, since 2009, governments and
stakeholders have undertaken numerous assessments of the vulnerability of ecological systems and biodiversity to climate change in sectors and regions across Canada. This includes collaborative work by federal-provincial-territorial governments on
tools and assessments for adaptation planning related to parks and protected areas, water resources management and the forest sector.
Canada's farmers are implementing practices that increase diversity on their farms such as planting shelterbelts
and windbreaks, installing and managing riparian buffers, and integrating practices like crop rotation, strip cropping and agroforestry. In 2011, 35% of Canadian farms had a formal Environmental Farm Plans (compared to 27% in 2006) and 2% indicated
they were in the process of developing one.
Significant investments have been made to protect and restore key bodies including the Great Lakes, Lake Winnipeg and Lake Simcoe, and progress is being made to reduce nutrient loads to these areas.
Three Canadian Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes are fully restored and two more areas are in recovery.
The National Aquaculture Strategic Action Plan Initiative provides a comprehensive strategic vision for the sector, identifying actions for
federal, provincial and territorial governments and industry from 2011 to 2015. Canada is also taking steps to ensure long-term sustainability of nationally managed fisheries by developing and implementing comprehensive fishery management plans
supported by new policies and tools, including those developed under the Sustainable Fisheries Framework, the best available science advice, and compliance and enforcement activities. Of 155 major fish stocks assessed in 2012, 75 stocks (48%) were
classified as "healthy" and 15 stocks (10%) were classified as "critical"; this represents an improvement since 2011.
Since 2009, at least 47 intervention or management plans have been developed by governments to address the threat of invasive
alien species (IAS), often in partnership with non-government organizations. IAS councils and committees, established in most provinces and territories, play an important role in identifying regional priorities and leveraging local actions to address
IAS. In 2013 the Canadian Council on Invasive Species was formed and works collaboratively across jurisdictional boundaries.
Recognizing the benefits both for biodiversity and business sustainability, Canadian companies, particularly in the
natural resource sectors, are introducing new initiatives and standards in support of biodiversity outcomes. The Canadian Business and Biodiversity Council tracks and promotes best practices and facilitates information sharing amongst leading
businesses and those who are interested in improving their corporate biodiversity performance.
The customary use of biological resources, including such activities as hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering, is an important element of the
intimate cultural relationship many Aboriginal peoples in Canada have with nature. Through negotiated cooperative agreements, Aboriginal peoples are assuming increased responsibility for the management of biological resources. While some challenges
for Aboriginal peoples to engage in customary use of biological resources remain, there are also many positive examples that can be built upon.
Since 2009, national initiatives such as the Ecosystem Status and Trends Report series, the Value of
Nature to Canadians Study, and the federal Measuring Ecosystem Goods and Services project have advanced the science and knowledge base for biodiversity and ecosystems services in Canada. University- and museum-based researchers, as well as
non-government organizations, are also enhancing understanding of Canada's biodiversity. In addition, there have been ongoing improvements to the extent and accessibility of taxonomic information and geospatial data to support decision-making.
Aboriginal traditional knowledge (ATK) makes important contributions to conservation planning and decision-making. A number of mechanisms exist to promote and consider ATK in biodiversity-related work, such as species assessment and recovery,
park planning and management, research and capacity building, and impact assessment.
Statistics Canada is pursuing opportunities to improve measure of natural capital related to biodiversity and ecosystem services to help ensure the diverse
values of biodiversity can be fully reflected in, for example, environmental statistics and national wealth accounts, indices of well-being, land use and resource management plans and development plans.
Provinces and territories integrate some
aspects of biodiversity into their formal education systems, often supported through complementary initiatives by non-government organizations. Initiatives such as the Ontario Children's Outdoor Charter are working to get more Canadians out into
nature. Countless efforts to engage Canadians in biodiversity conservation are underway across the country, particularly at the local and regional level, through local environmental organizations and volunteer programs, and through government-run
conservation programs. Canadians are also contributing to our understanding of species through a variety of citizen-science programs.
Contributing to progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets
Chapter III cross-references the global
Aichi targets with the proposed 2020 biodiversity goals and targets for Canada, and associated domestic indicators. It also provides additional information related to other CBD and global priorities.