As the leaders of the developed nations meet this week in Kobe, Japan, the environmental community has again called on Canada’s Prime Minister and Environment Minister to adopt firm targets to reduce Canada’s net greenhouse gas emissions to at least 25% below the 1990 level in 2020 and 80% below the 1990 level in 2050. (See the letter signed by 24 Canadian environmental and development groups, including Nature Canada). However, I was disappointed yet again to see the headlines in today’s Globe and Mail. Canada has joined the resistance to targets, opting instead to wait tell the next United Nations meeting in Copenhagen. This country has shown a remarkable lack of leadership on developing a credible plan to address climate… read more →
According to the Edmonton Journal, delays, setbacks and spiralling costs threaten to derail the massive, basin-opening Mackenzie Gas Project — a situation the oil conglomerates and its supporters are calling ” a mess” and “a nightmare.” I call it welcome news. The article recounts a litany of delays and obstacles that energy interests have endured in their quest to carve up the (for-now) pristine Mackenzie Valley. A sampling: the project, once thought achievable for a mere $4 billion, has ballooned to $16.2 billion and rising. a rival Alaska Highway pipeline plan could kill the Mackenzie Valley proposal, since there isn’t enough manpower or materials to carry on both projects at the same time. continued disagreements with Ottawa… read more →
As Parliament gears up to review Canada’s 5-year old Species at Risk Act, Ontario’s own wildlife protection law, the Endangered Species Act, came into force this week. When this act was passed a year ago, it was hailed as a victory for species and their habitats because of the law’s strong habitat protection focus and mandatory science-based listing of species at risk. For some Ontario species though, this legislation comes too late. And much of the early promise of this legislation is fading – yesterday the Ontario government approved more than two dozen exemptions to the act that will exempt forestry, aggregate extraction, hydro, and other development from the law. Meanwhile, Canada’s federal law has not lived up to its… read more →
Nature Canada staffer Sue Robertson returned from the cottage with this pic of Willie, the resident croaker. Says Sue: Willie is very vocal. Many times at night we listen to him over the call of our neighbour loon. Willie lives on one side of our dock and constantly talks to another friend on the other side of our dock…. Thanks Sue — perhaps you’ll fill out a FrogWatch observation form and enter Willie in Nature Canada’s climate change study.
This is an article I wrote about a National Wildlife Area in crisis in Prince Edward County, Ontario. Part of it was published in the County Weekly News in Picton on July 2, 2008. I’m posting the entire article here. Each spring and autumn, Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area comes alive with songbirds and raptors. Located on a major migration route on the eastern tip of Prince Edward County, this 560-hectare parcel of wilderness was established in 1978 to protect migratory bird habitat. The Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory operates a migration monitoring station within the NWA. It is one of 25 across the country that track three to five billion birds as they leave the boreal forest every… read more →
Take a look at this beautiful painting of a polar bear by the First Nations artist Icebear, also known as Chris Johnson. His wife Charonne, a member of Nature Canada’s online community, sent this to us and to the Prime Minister, with this message: I think the best way to speak on behalf of the polar bear and all the other arctic creatures is to send this photo of a painting done by my husband; as you can see, the bear is resting at the edge of the ice flow, staring out beyond it. What will he see? Nothing ahead but starvation and drowning, as things stand at the moment. This polar bear was painted using as a model a… read more →
These days, we hear a lot about the effects of climate change on species and habitats. Scientific studies looking for a link between climate change and animal behaviour often focus on birds, and for good reason. Birds are one of the best known groups of species on the planet, they are found in virtually every habitat, and much of their life cycle (like egg laying and migration) is often intimately linked to climatic conditions. A new study in Global Change Biology provides more evidence that a warming climate is directly affecting bird behaviour. Researchers found that many birds migrating to or through the eastern U.S. are arriving earlier. This times their arrival to correspond to optimal food and habitat conditions… read more →
On the ground conservation work in support of the endangered piping plover has been cut by Environment Canada without explanation. Two of Nature Canada’s provincial affiliates, Island Nature Trust in PEI and Nature New Brunswick, have been impacted by the decision. Each group is receiving less than half of the amount they requested. We are not talking about large amounts of money here. Moreover the work done by these groups is often done in collaboration with volunteers from the naturalist communities in the area. This results in significant leveraging of resources and has a big impact on the ground. Nature Canada has been supporting work by communities at Important Bird Areas for almost 10 years now and has found that… read more →
Last month, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave a speech at the UN Conference on the Convention on Biological Diversity. In it, he said, “Protecting biodiversity is one of the paramount environmental challenges facing the world today.” I could not agree more. And Canada has to do much more to to protect “our rich natural heritage”. Just this week, I submitted to the Government of Canada through Environment Canada and Minister John Baird’s office a proposal that would help us protect Canada’s birds and important bird areas in the western hemisphere. With the help of the Quito office of Birdlife International and Ian Davidson in particular, we have an Americas-wide initiative called Tundra to Tierra del Fuego; a 38 country,… read more →
Liberal leader Stephane Dion has challenged Prime Minister Harper to debate the merits of his carbon tax plan — interesting idea, especially outside of an official election campaign, but what are the odds it’ll happen? Maybe two political leaders could have a civil, substantive debate about one of the most important issues of our time (global warming)…er, maybe not.