Reginald Whittemore founded Nature Canada in 1939, when he launched the magazine Canadian Nature in honour of his late wife Mabel Frances, an educator and nature lover whose main goal in life was to share her passion for nature with others.
Since then, we have been connecting Canadians to nature, instilling within each of us a respect for nature, an appreciation for its wonders, and a will to act in nature’s defense.
We have grown to become a national organization with 40,000 supporters and a network of more than 350 naturalist organizations operating at the local, regional and provincial levels.
Here are a few highlights from our past:
In February 2010, the governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador announced that over 13,000 square kilometres of boreal habitat in eastern Canada will be preserved through the establishment of Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve and a waterway provincial park to protect the Eagle River. Nature Canada worked with First Nations and governments at all three levels for the establishment of the Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve for more than 15 years.
Nature Canada, with partners Historica Dominion Institute and Parks Canada, launches My Parks Pass. More than 400,000 Grade 8 students across Canada are given a free family pass to national parks and national historic sites administered by Parks Canada.
Nature Canada worked with Birdlife International partner, Haiti Audubon Society, and local leaders in the communities surrounding Macaya National Park in western Haiti, to protect critical habitat for Canadian breeding birds like the Bicknell's Thrush. A school was built, offering free admission for students in exchange for a family’s commitment to conserve vulnerable habitat inside the National Park and end unsustainable practices such as clear cutting.
Calling for sustainable development of the North, Nature Canada convinced the Joint Review Panel conducting an environmental assessment of the Mackenzie Gas Project, to include key recommendations to protect bird habitat.
Nature Canada, in collaboration with David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice and Environmental Defence, releases Canada’s Species at Risk Act: Implementation at a Snail’s Pace, which offers practical steps to strengthen Canada’s most important wildlife protection act.
The Important Bird Area Caretakers Network, a nationwide initiative to recruit volunteers to watch over and protect IBAs in their community, expanded to seven provinces. The Caretaker Network is a joint effort between regional partners across the country and two national partners, Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada.
The Green Budget Coalition (GBC), founded and hosted by Nature Canada since 1999, released its priority recommendations for the federal government’s 2011 budget, which focuses on a conservation plan for Canada, energy efficiency and freshwater resources, as well as a suite of subsidy reform measures.
A government-appointed panel recommends against granting a permit to EnCana to drill inside Suffield National Wildlife Area and imposes strict conditions on future plans. Nature Canada continues to work to ensure that drilling is permanently prohibited inside Suffield and all NWAs.
Nature Canada and our boreal forest campaign partners submit the Save Our Boreal Birds petition to parliament, bearing over 60,000 signatures from 117 countries calling for protecting at least 50% of the boreal forest and supporting sustainable development practices in the remaining areas.
Ian Davidson joins Nature Canada as the new Executive Director.
Two federal court cases rule in favour of species protection for the endangered Greater Sage-Grouse and the Nooksack Dace and require the government to identify critical habitat in Species at Risk recovery strategies.
The Canadian Important Bird Area Caretakers Network launches.
Nature Canada provides testimony in defense of conserving Kendall Island Bird Sanctuary during hearings examining the Mackenzie Gas Project.
Nature Canada completes a scientific review of a proposed recovery strategy for the endangered Greater Sage-Grouse; the review becomes the basis for a lawsuit against the federal government that argues ineffective enforcement of species legislation was threatening extinction for the grouse.
Nature Canada completes a project in Paraguay to improve the lives of Paraguayans and the birds that depend on Paraguay's Atlantic Forest.
One million hectares of western Lake Superior become Canada's first National Marine Conservation Area. Nature Canada's hard work in getting the National Marine Conservation Areas Act passed made this historic event possible.
Nature Canada, along with other leading environmental groups, releases a roadmap for action on today's most pressing conservation issues, called Tomorrow Today: How Canada can make a World of Difference.
After 16 years of dedicated service to Nature Canada, Julie Gelfand steps down as president.
Nature Canada begins a campaign calling on the government to implement a climate plan that effectively reduces all major Canadian sources of greenhouse gases, re-commits Canada to the Kyoto Protocol, and puts in place regulations that set absolute emissions targets for industrial polluters.
Nature Canada releases its three-year review of the Species at Risk Act, with recommendations on improving implementation and enforcement of the Act.
Nature Canada serves legal notice to the Environment Minister for failing to protect two plants in danger of immediate extinction; the Minister enters into direct negotiations to resolve the issue.
Nature Canada sues the federal government over its failure to identify critical habitat for the endangered Piping Plover. The government announces it will produce a new recovery strategy.
The federal government agrees to commit funds to establish Canada's first marine wildlife area at Scott Islands Provincial Park, after three years of advocacy on this issue by Nature Canada.
Nature Canada joins the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework, which, among other things, calls for at least 50% of the Boreal Forest to be protected.
Nature Canada begins a comprehensive consultation of the Canadian Nature Network, in order to prepare a strategic plan that will marshal our collective efforts on behalf of nature conservation.
Nature Canada helps advance the potential expansion of Waterton Lakes National Park by providing technical expertise to officials from B.C.'s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.
Nature Canada joins several leading environmental organizations to file a legal petition asking the federal government to protect Alberta's remaining Woodland Caribou.
Nature Canada launches an online community that quickly grows to more than 10,000 people by year's end. Web community members share their passion for nature with ecards, nature photography and poetry, and raise their collective voices by participating in online letter-writing campaigns.
Several oil and gas companies propose to launch the Mackenzie Gas Project, a massive pipeline that, among other things, would destroy Kendall Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Nature Canada begins a years-long campaign to prevent approval of the project.
Nature Canada produces its first national report card on the federal government's implementation of the Species at Risk Act.
Nature Canada advocates strongly for the passage of Bill C-15, legislation that would reduce the effects of chronic oil pollution by holding shipping companies accountable if they illegally dump bilge oil in Canadian waters. Bill C-15 becomes law in May 2005.
Nature Canada calls for the creation of the Scott Islands Marine Wildlife Area.
Japan's Princess Takamado, honorary president of BirdLife International, pays a formal visit to Nature Canada's office.
Nature Canada launches the Parks and People Program, aimed at recruiting the next generation of environmental stewards by bringing youth into nature. More than 14,000 children visited a natural space in the first year of the program.
With 40,000 individual supporters (members and donors), we raise a trusted voice on the national stage for the Nature Networkfor 10 provincial affiliates, 107 member organizations and 249 other nature clubs.
The Prime Ministers pledge to create 10 new national parks and five new national marine conservation areas over the next five years, with $145 million in top-up funding, will increase the National Park System by 50 per cent and will add 15,000 square kilometres to a new Marine Conservation Area System.
We commend a new Canada-Manitoba memorandum of understanding to work towards the creation of the Manitoba Lowlands National Park.
CNF applauds Newfoundlands decision to build the Trans-Labrador Highway outside the heart of the proposed Mealy Mountains National Park.
CNF receives an award from Environment Minister David Anderson for our years of hard work within the Species at Risk Working Group.
The Green Budget Coalition, in which CNF plays a lead role, achieves an unprecedented success when 50 per cent of their recommendations are implemented in the February 2003 federal budget, which commits $3 billion towards environmental protection and climate change, including $74 million for the park recommendations.
With the coming into force of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, Canadas grey whales, tiger salamanders, cucumber trees, mudpuppy mussels, whooping cranes and the other 228 species at risk are now protected under the new law.
Support from the Canadian International Development Agencys Environment and Sustainable Development Program enables CNF to collaborate with partners in Mexico, Panama and Paraguay to build community-based development projects compatible with conservation objectives.
CNFs report Conserving Wildlife on a Shoestring Budget concludes that illegal poaching, resource development, the presence of toxic chemicals, climate change, and grossly inadequate funding (only 15 cents per hectare) are threatening Canadas system of national wildlife areas (NWAs) and migratory bird sanctuaries (MBSs).
plays a lead role in a complaint to the Commission for
Environmental Cooperation regarding the federal governments
failure to enforce the Migratory
Birds Convention Act against forestry operations
in Ontario. In partnership with the forestry industry
and Environment Canada we identify effective means of
ensuring compliance with the act.
We help 31 communities improve local land-use decision making through the Canadian Community Monitoring Network.
CNF establishes a ground presence in Labrador and maintains its strong voice in Ottawa to promote the establishment of Mealy Mountains National Park and the interim protection of proposed park lands.
CNF mobilizes public opposition to the development of inappropriate tourism facilities bordering the unique and sensitive sand dune ecosystems in PEI National Parks Greenwich Adjunct.
In June 2002 the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) passes through the House of Commons after an eight-year campaign waged by environmental groups.
CNF partners with the JW McConnell Family Foundation to provide teachers with quality environmental education programsthe FrogWatch Teachers Guide (grades 7-12) and Species at Risk Kit (grades 3-7)to Canadian teachers free of charge.
Following on the success of the FrogWatch program, we continue our partnership with Environment Canadas Ecological monitoring and Assessment Network (EMAN) and add three new NatureWatch programs: WormWatch, IceWatch, and PlantWatch.
work with international partners and community groups
to monitor the Jessica oil
spill off the Galapagos Islands.
CNF serves on the advisory committee for the Ministerial Roundtable on Ecological Integrity of Canadas National Parks and publishes an influential list of the 10 Most Endangered National Parks.
CNF produces an in-depth Species at Risk education guide for grades 3-7 and distributes 20,000 copies of the poster to classrooms across Canada.
Through Project FeederWatch, a partnership with Bird Studies Canada, CNF turns backyard birdwatching into valuable research.
We select 93 IBAs for conservation planningfrom Scott Islands, BC, to Bird Island, NS. Stakeholder activity was already ongoing at 76 of these sites.
CNF spearheads the formation of the Green Budget Coalition to ensure the federal budget includes funds for environmental protection. In 2000 more than $700 million of new environmental spending was announced, the most significant amount since the Green Plan in the late 1980s.
is instrumental in getting the National
Parks Act (Bill C-27) passed in October 2000 after
submissions to both the House and Senate committees
responsible for the bill and work with Senators and
MPs to ensure its timely passage before an election
was called. This bill provides formal legal protection
to six national parks including Grasslands, Gros Morne,
Wapusk, Aulavik, Sirmilik, and Pacific Rim.
Although CNF successfully wins a Federal Court order to re-open the Cheviot mine hearings, the Joint Federal and Provincial Panel approves the Cheviot project for a second time. However, during the three-year delay caused by the legal proceedings, coal prices decrease and investors who originally backed the open-pit coal mine project adjacent to Jasper National Park withdraw their financial commitments.
CNF successfully advocates an amendment to the Parks Canada Agency Act, which now states that it is in the national interest to manage park visitor use and tourism so as to maintain the ecological integrity of all national parks.
CNF wins the appeal of the Cheviot Mine court case The Federal Court strikes down federal authorization of the Cheviot mine, rules that the project's environmental assessment was incomplete, and that the proposed mine, in destroying harlequin duck nesting areas, is illegal under the Migratory Birds Convention Act.
CNF successfully advocates expansion of the proposed Manitoba Lowlands national park boundaries to include several areas of conservation priority and successfully opposes construction of an all-weather road through the park.
CNF successfully advocates strengthening of Nova Scotia's Endangered Species Act when our recommendations to the provincial parliament see the legislation improved by the requirement to implement recovery plans.
Thanks to CNF's efforts COSEWIC broadens its mandate to include consideration of invertebrate and non-vascular plant species.
CNF and the Canadian Wildlife Service launch the Endangered Plants and Invertebrates in Canada (EPIC)Program.
CNF campaigns successfully for the withdrawal of lands from commercial development within the boundaries of the proposed North Baffin Island national park.
Nature Canada magazine wins three North American awards of merit.
CNF, in cooperation with a national task force, authors a working draft of the National Wildlife Policy for Canada.