State of Canada’s Biodiversity Highlighted in New Government Report

The federal government has released a new report on biodiversity, Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, in advance of the COP10 meeting that started this week. The report, which is a joint federal/ provincial/ territorial initiative to assess Canada’s ecosystems, focuses on trends in ecosystem condition, drivers and stressors. It is billed as the first assessment of Canada’s biodiversity from an ecosystem perspective.

This report is a first step in Canada’s Biodiversity Outcomes Framework, outlining the health of Canada’s ecosystems and enabling the government to better define the national biodiversity agenda and set priorities. It also provides a good measure of Canada’s progress towards achieving the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) 2010 Biodiversity Target.

Some excerpts from the report’s Executive Summary:

Some findings reveal that much of Canada’s natural endowment remains healthy, including large tracts of undisturbed wilderness, internationally significant wetlands, and thriving estuaries, particularly in sparsely populated or less accessible areas. Forest area is fairly stable. Over half of Canada’s landscape remains intact and relatively free from human infrastructure. Although much is in the more remote North, this also includes large tracts of boreal forest and coastal temperate rainforest.Canada maintains commercial and recreational freshwater and marine fisheries of significant economic and cultural importance.

Some key findings identify ecosystems in which natural processes are compromised or increased stresses are reaching critical thresholds. Examples include: fish populations that have not recovered despite the removal of fishing pressure; declines in the area and condition of grasslands, where grassland bird populations are dropping sharply; and, fragmented forests that place forest-dwelling caribou at risk.

We’re glad to see a comprehensive report that addresses the state of Canada’s biodiversity, but we’re puzzled as to why Environment Canada released such an important document in silence – there isn’t yet a news release about it on the department’s website to publicly announce the availability of the report and most of the media attention has been as a result of opposition critics questioning the government’s commitment to the UN summit in Nagoya, Japan.

As the International Year of Biodiversity draws to a close, we continue to ask the government to safeguard the vast array of biodiversity in Canada, for the world and for future generations.