De­spite ev­ery­thing, there is still hope for na­ture

The Province - - EDITORIAL - DAN KRAUS Dan Kraus is se­nior con­ser­va­tion bi­ol­o­gist with the Na­ture Con­ser­vancy of Canada.

For the first time in hu­man his­tory, our en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts are hap­pen­ing at a scale that is af­fect­ing all life on Earth. The lat­est re­port by the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change warns that time may be run­ning out for ef­fec­tive ac­tion on cli­mate change. Our list of glob­ally threat­ened wildlife has grown to more than 26,500 species, and many wildlife pop­u­la­tions are de­clin­ing. In Canada, iconic wildlife like cari­bou are in trou­ble and the At­lantic white­fish, per­haps Canada’s most en­dan­gered species, may be doomed to ex­tinc­tion.

Our cur­rent en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues — from cli­mate change to bio­di­ver­sity loss — are the re­sult of many col­lec­tive im­pacts. How­ever, there are ex­am­ples of hope from 2018 as we en­ter 2019.

PRO­TECTED AR­EAS GROW

Parks and pro­tected ar­eas now top 20 mil­lion square kilo­me­tres — about 15 per cent of the planet’s lands and in­land waters. Through the col­lec­tive con­ser­va­tion ef­forts of all na­tions, it ap­pears we will meet the global tar­get of pro­tect­ing 17 per cent by 2020. In Canada, more than 20 per cent of Nu­navik in north­ern Que­bec is now pro­tected and our first In­dige­nous pro­tected area was es­tab­lished: the Edéhzhíe Pro­tected Area in the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries.

HIS­TOR­I­CAL IN­VEST­MENT

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment con­tin­ued to sup­port pri­vate land con­ser­va­tion ef­forts through the Nat­u­ral Ar­eas Con­ser­va­tion Pro­gram. It also an­nounced $1.3 bil­lion over five years to pro­tect Canada’s lands, oceans and wildlife.

KEEP­ING FISH IN THE SEA

Be­tween 2016 and 2018, the amount of ma­rine pro­tected ar­eas in the world in­creased from 10.2 per cent to 16.8 per cent. There were also many im­por­tant ini­tia­tives in place to re­duce un­sus­tain­able fish­ing prac­tices.

BIG PARKS AND BIG COR­RI­DORS

The prov­ince re­leased plans to es­tab­lish more pro­tected ar­eas in Bighorn Coun­try and the Na­ture Con­ser­vancy of Canada un­veiled the Jim Pren­tice Wildlife Cor­ri­dor pro­ject. New and ex­panded parks were es­tab­lished around Wood Buf­falo Na­tional Park, in­clud­ing the Birch River Wild­land Pro­vin­cial Park, with con­tri­bu­tions by the Tall­cree Tribal Gov­ern­ment, NCC, the gov­ern­ments of Al­berta and Canada and Syn­crude Canada. It cre­ated the largest pro­tected bo­real for­est in the world.

CON­SERVE AND RE­STORE IT

In 2018, a den of swift foxes was dis­cov­ered on an NCC prop­erty in Al­berta. In New­found­land and Labrador, World Wildlife Fund Canada re­stored a beach that al­lowed capelin to re­turn and spawn.

BIG HOPE IN A SMALL PACK­AGE

Fewer than 100 Poweshiek skip­per­ing but­ter­flies re­main in Canada. This small but­ter­fly is re­stricted to south­east­ern Man­i­toba and a site near Flint, Mich. This pop­u­la­tion got just a lit­tle larger when the Assini­boine Park Con­ser­vancy con­ser­va­tion and re­search depart­ment suc­cess­fully re­leased six cap­tive-reared but­ter­flies at NCC’s Tall Grass Prairie Nat­u­ral Area.

KEY BIO­DI­VER­SITY AR­EAS

Many con­flicts be­tween re­source devel­op­ment and con­ser­va­tion oc­cur be­cause im­por­tant ar­eas for na­ture have not been iden­ti­fied early in the plan­ning process.

Key Bio­di­ver­sity Ar­eas is a global ef­fort to map th­ese places around the world. In Canada, Im­por­tant Bird Ar­eas and some fresh­wa­ter KBAs were an­nounced, with more to be iden­ti­fied by the Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety Canada and part­ners.

NA­TURE FOR ALL

The In­ter­na­tional Union for Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture’s new pub­li­ca­tion: Con­nect­ing with Na­ture to Care for Our­selves and the Earth is a use­ful guide to link­ing na­ture with our own well-be­ing.

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