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Expansion of Bruce Peninsula National Park
Andrea Lesperance,
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Expansion of Bruce Peninsula National Park

[caption id="attachment_37987" align="alignleft" width="150"] Andrea Lesperance, Student-at-Law.[/caption] This blog post was written by Andrea Lesperance a Student-at-law at Nature Canada. Parks Canada has reached an agreement to purchase the approximately 1300 hectare Driftwood Cove property directly North of Bruce Peninsula National Park on the Georgian Bay coast. The property will be incorporated into the Bruce Peninsula National Park and contribute to conservation of UNESCO’s Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve, a 725 km corridor from Lake Ontario to the tip of Bruce Peninsula. The park expansion is a significant step towards protection of biodiversity, species at risk and their habitat in southern Ontario. The Driftwood Cove land is home to at least 10 federally-listed species at risk. One such species is the Massasauga rattlesnake; Ontario has listed its Great Lakes – St. Lawrence population (the population that resides in Bruce Peninsula) as threatened. Species at risk in the Park are managed in accordance with a Multi-Species Action Plan for Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park of Canada. Although no critical habitat is identified in this action plan, protection of habitat is the most important means of protecting at-risk species. Protection of habitat via creation or expansion of national parks also contributes to Canada’s goal to conserve at least 17% of its terrestrial areas and inland water and 10% of its coastal and marine areas through networks of protected areas by 2020. [caption id="attachment_37984" align="alignright" width="300"] Photo by Brandon Charles Xavier.[/caption] Bruce Peninsula National Park contains the largest continuous forest in southwestern Ontario and globally-rare ecosystems such as limestone barrens called alvars and cliff-edge forests. The expansion also adds many ecologically, geologically and culturally significant cave systems to the Park. The Bruce Peninsula lies within Anishinaabekiing - the traditional homeland or territory of the Anishnaabe of the Saugeen Ojubway Nation (SON) - contemporarily represented by the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation and the Sagueen Ojibway First Nation. The Bruce Peninsula National Park was created in 1987 and, since then, has been added to via 140 parcels of land. The land had been listed for sale at $20.6 million but Parks Canada will not release the final purchase price prior to the sale. Parks Canada will be making the purchase with financial support from the Bruce Trail Conservancy.


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How Human Activities and Climate Change Affect Wildlife
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How Human Activities and Climate Change Affect Wildlife

This blog is written by Steve Gahbauer, who has been regularly contributing Nature Notes for many years.


Canada’s wildlife is in peril. From bees to birds, butterflies, boreal caribou, polar bears, whales, turtles and salamanders - species are in decline. Sea levels are rising, putting low elevation islands at risk of flooding. Sooner or later thousands of coastal communities around the world will become uninhabitable. Antarctic melt rate has tripled in the last decade. The ice shield is diminishing faster than ever. It is now pouring more than 180 billion tons of ice into the ocean annually. Since 1992, the Antarctic ice shield has lost nearly three trillion tons of ice. Of that loss, 40% occurred in the last five years. North Atlantic Ocean currents have slowed down by 15% since the middle of the last century. Africa’s Lake Chad is in a state of crisis, and drinking water reservoirs are drying up in many places. Man-made pollution of air and water exacerbate the situation. There is no doubt that the issues are complex and that addressing and solving them is a daunting task. Complexity calls for collaboration. We live in a pivotal era which presents significant stakes. There is a growing need for finding solutions to meet growing energy demands and environment protection needs, while at the same time remaining cognizant of our impact on the health of our planet and its finite and depleting resources. Climate change in general, and accelerating human activities in particular, have significant impacts on wildlife. These are a few of the wildlife species that are being affected by the changing climate in Canada.

Birds

Studies show that birds start egg-laying at an average of 6.6 days earlier every 10 years. Raising their young is no longer matched with the time of maximum food availability. And many birds are migrating earlier because of warmer Spring temperatures, while Arctic birds are challenged by an army of new parasites. To learn more about bird lives, see BirdLife's recent study on how climate change will affect birds. [caption id="attachment_37899" align="alignleft" width="300"] Eastern Meadowlark, photo by Connie VanderZwaag Kiers.[/caption] One hope for the preservation of grassland birds will be farmers who adjust their hay harvest times to the nesting times of birds. For decades, nesting Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlarks have been on a collision course with farm tractors and livestock, contributing to drastic population declines among these birds. Ontario’s Bobolink numbers have plummeted 77% since 1970. While grassland birds seek a place to hatch and rear their young, farmers are scything down hay fields with their mowers and have cattle grazing on bird breeding grounds. The consequences are usually disastrous for the birds. But now, some farmers are steering a new course, hoping to reverse the slide. They attempt to revise their times for harvesting hay in June – the height of nesting time for grassland birds – and by implementing more rational grazing. Keeping mowers and livestock out of fields until mid-July, when young birds have fledged, is a good idea, but it creates another dilemma for farmers: lower quality hay and animal welfare costs. Milk cows demand higher levels of protein than other livestock, so dairy farmers must cut hay more frequently to harvest fodder that is less mature and higher in protein. They also opt for high protein species, such as alfalfa, which is poorer habitat for Bobolinks. Efforts to maintain grassland are beneficial not only to Bobolinks and Meadowlarks, but also to Field Sparrows, Savannah Sparrows, Upland Sandpipers, Eastern Kingbirds, Kestrels, Northern Harriers and Short-eared Owls.

Bees

There is a pressing need to protect bees and other pollinators from neonicotinoid pesticides and herbicides. Bees are hard-working, industrious creatures, small but mighty, that are essential to pollinate many edibles we consume. Glyphosate is a weed killer that has a devastating impact on the life of bees. It also takes out all milkweed and nectar-producing wildflowers. Sign Nature Canada's petition to ban neonics today!

Boreal caribou

Caribou and our other at-risk species are more than just “nice to have.” Scientists consider boreal caribou as bellwethers of the health of the boreal forest. Protecting Canada’s remaining boreal caribou habitat is one of the most important means at our disposal for maintaining fully functioning ecosystems within forests and wetlands. Yet, companies are routinely exempt from rules that are supposed to protect caribou habitat. Despite a 2012 federal government recovery strategy that outlined the need to protect at least 65% of boreal caribou habitat from disturbance, industrial development is still allowed. Boreal caribou are estimated to occupy 2.4 million square kilometres of Canada’s boreal forest. Their critical habitat extends from Labrador to the Yukon, across nine provinces and territories. They have been part of our landscapes for more than two million years.

Polar Bears

[caption id="attachment_37913" align="alignright" width="271"] Polar Bear, photo by Michelle Valberg[/caption] Shrinking pack ice and longer, warmer summers are forcing Polar Bears to move south. One has even come on land in Newfoundland in June. There are between 25,000 and 30,000 Polar Bears in the world, of which about 15,000 live in Canada. Females give birth about once every two years and normally have twin cubs. The average life span of these wonderful animals is 15 to 18 years. This average is now reduced due to human activities and climate change.

Monarch butterflies

[caption id="attachment_37904" align="alignleft" width="300"] Monarch Butterfly, photo by Diane Gelink[/caption] A recent report by COSEWIC, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, stated that Monarch butterflies are at high risk of disappearing forever and raised their status from “special concern” to “endangered.” The report says the status change is due to the impacts of ongoing habitat loss in the Monarch’s wintering grounds in Mexico, coupled with increasing destruction of milkweed caterpillar breeding habitat and nectar plants. The precipitous decline in North America’s Monarch butterfly population of up to 90% has unfolded since the widespread use of pesticides and herbicides. The good news is that Nature Canada, among other environmental organization, are taking action to protect Monarch Butterfly populations.

Turtles

Half of Canadian turtle species are in decline and need urgent conservation action. Besides road mortality, the main factors driving down turtle populations are habitat loss, nest predation and poaching. What’s needed to counteract this impact of human activities is education, outreach and engagement, with the ultimate goal of changing the way we behave around turtles and other wildlife. Legislation alone cannot create that. The key is engagement by people who share the earth with wildlife and take ownership and stewardship of species. Read more on how you can help save turtles' lives today!

Whales

[caption id="attachment_37909" align="alignright" width="300"] Humpback Whale, photo by Tobias Brueckner[/caption] Many whale species are endangered by the consequences of human activities and climate change, especially the orcas on Canada’s west coast. There are three main causes for their decreasing numbers: starvation, water contamination, and underwater noise. Overfishing of Chinook salmon has reduced the orcas’ primary food source, requiring them to travel farther for less food. Pesticides in the water concentrate in their bodies because orcas are at the apex of the predatory food chain. And ship propellers and engine noise from tanker traffic interferes with their echolocation of prey. Increasingly, many whales are becoming entangled in fishing and lobster trap lines. They suffer injuries, are being maimed, and often drown. Several species of large whales in the Northwest Atlantic are under endangered species legislation, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched a $1.5 billion Ocean Protection Plan, starting a new and much needed commitment to protect marine mammals.

Salamanders

North America is home to more than half of the planet’s salamander species, including 21 in Canada. Many are rare and only occupy small areas. In the Netherlands, endangered Fire Salamanders were nearly wiped out by a skin-eating fungal disease, believed to have arrived with pet salamanders from Asia. International trading is another human activity that results in an impact on wildlife. In an effort to prevent the fungal disease from reaching North America, the Canadian government has banned any salamanders entering this country. The ban is aimed at the estimated 17,000 salamanders (including newts) that have, until now, arrived each year to supply the pet trade or researchers needing study animals. There seems to be no end to the impact from diseases and human activities, in addition to the overall effects of climate change.

We are an integral part of nature and are sustained by it; we share our planet with all other creatures. Wildlife and humans will always conflict where and when their interests intersect. We have to understand that it is our destiny to be intertwined with the natural world. But it is important to address the growing disconnect between people and the natural world. Taking better care of the natural world encompasses conservation initiatives. Support for conservation is stronger when we care about places and their natural values. 

Help fight for nature in Canada today by supporting Nature Canada as we fight to protect wildlife species from coast, to coast, to coast.


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Note:  Bird Studies Canada is hosting the International Ornithological Congress from August 14 through 26 in Vancouver. More than 2,000 bird scientists from 100 countries around the world are expected to participate in the world’s biggest celebration of birds and bird science. Check out www.iocongress2018.com Sources: Nature Canada, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Canadian Wildlife Federation, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Bird Studies Canada, Ontario Nature, BBC documentaries, Ecojustice, National Post, Corporate Knights magazine, National Audubon Society, field notes. Earlier editions are archived on the websites of the Rouge Valley Conservation Centre and of the Rouge Valley Naturalists.
 

Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas
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Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas

This blog was written by writing intern Gabriel Planas Over the history of nature conservation in Canada, parks and protected areas have been little more than backdrops to human recreation rather than concerted efforts to preserve natural environments. As a result, these projects often forced indigenous populations to relocate or imposed heavy jurisdictions that eliminated Indigenous practices and economies that benefited Canada’s biodiversity. Fortunately, in 2015 the Indigenous Circle of Elders (ICE) was formed to advise the Federal Government of Canada on ways in which Indigenous communities can contribute to Canada’s commitment to reaching the Aichi targets by 2020. These targets were created in 2010 during the Conference of Parties in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture of Japan when countries from around the world, adopted a plan regarding biodiversity. In order to meet these targets, the federal government has been working in tandem with ICE in order to establish Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) around the country. IPCAs focus on protecting and conserving ecosystems through indigenous laws, governance and knowledge systems. Indigenous communities in these areas take on the responsibility of protecting and conserving ecosystems. While the individual conservation objectives of each IPCA will differ, all of them endeavor to elevate Indigenous rights and responsibilities, by affirming the validity of Indigenous legal traditions, customary and cultural practices as well as their abilities to help conserve biodiversity in Canada. [caption id="attachment_34526" align="alignleft" width="366"]Image of a Semipalmated Sandpiper Semipalmated Sandpiper[/caption] IPCAs present a unique opportunity to heal both the land and the people who inhabit it by moving towards true reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and settler societies. Things once withheld or unavailable to these communities may be developed through these areas, such as a stable foundation for local Indigenous economies, opportunities for Indigenous peoples to reconnect with the land and the revitalization of indigenous languages. The promoting of respect for the knowledge systems, protocols and ceremonies of Indigenous peoples provide an opportunity for Canadians to formulate a greater understanding of Indigenous cultures. While these areas mainly centre on promoting Indigenous communities and their cultural independence, IPCAs have profound benefits for Canadians. These areas have the ability to alleviate the stress of unsustainable human and industrial development. Indigenous groups who will operate these areas integrate holistic approaches to conservation of biodiversity that results in healthier ecosystems. These ecosystems in turn provide cleaner air and water which contribute to healthier populations and a reduction of Canada’s contribution to climate change. It is vital to both our environment and Canada’s obligation to reconciliation that areas like these are supported. They allow Indigenous communities to flourish in ways that were previously unavailable to them and promotes their culture practices in a positive manner that may just help Canada reach its Aichi target by 2020.

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Wood Frog: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, eh?
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Wood Frog: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, eh?

[caption id="attachment_36590" align="alignleft" width="150"] Tina-Louise Rossit,
Guest Blogger.[/caption] This blog is written by Nature Canada guest blogger Tina-Louise Rossit. Canada is cold. We know it, tourists know it, and the wildlife know it. But despite the cold, we’ve been doing fine with clothing and heating devices to help us through. Well, same goes for our Canadian wildlife! Over the course of evolution, these animals developed remarkable features to survive our winters, and maybe even better than any man-made technology! Today’s honourary species is an expert at hibernation. The Wood Frog, Rana sylvaticus, has amazed scientists with their ultimate freezing method. They can freeze their bodies, stop their heartbeat, and remain in this state all winter. Then, springtime hits, and they come back to life. It’s spectacular. Ready to defrost this mystery? Wood frogs are tiny frogs about 5cm in length, with molted tan-brown skin that camouflages among forest floor leaf litter. They have a distinctive dark brown “eye-mask”, making them an easy species to identify.  A true Canadian amphibian, they’re found in every province and territory. As their name implies, they like wooden areas. Their only condition is that there is a fresh water source for breeding and laying eggs. When the winter melts away, vernal pools or temporary ponds without fish, are the best places for Wood Frogs to breed in.  Since vernal pools have no big predators, insects and other invertebrates come to breed here too, and it’s perfect for Wood Frogs and their tadpoles, since that’s exactly what they like to eat! After a good summer’s worth of eating and building up reserves, the usual frog routine would be to find a pond, dig a hole in its bottom, and avoid freezing over winter. Not the Wood Frog! They do not go for the usual routine and instead choose to borrow under a thin layer of leaf litter to allow their bodies to freeze. And this happens rather quickly since temperature rapidly fall to sub-zero temperatures. With a range well into the Arctic Circle, we’re talking real cold conditions! Ice crystals form along their tiny bodies and as they turn rock solid. For scientists who study living tissues at extreme low temperatures (cryobiologists), they are astounded at the Wood Frog’s capability to preserve themselves for 4-6 months in this icy coma every single year. Obviously, research and studies on these frogs were needed at once! And so, studies conducted were to recreate Wood Frogs’ natural habitat and temperature cycles in labs such as to observe them and run tests on their tissues and blood component levels. Freezing your cells can cause rupturing and irreversible damage yet Wood Frogs bypass this. As winter arrives, the Wood Frog’s liver begins overproducing glucose (sugar) and urea (a waste product found in urine) to be transported throughout the organs, tissues and cells. The high concentration of both substances is naturally dangerous but does nothing to harm these frogs. Actually, this is their antifreeze recipe! Their cellular activity slows down to absolute minimum but is not stopped completely. Although their blood is functionable, it will not flow at that low activity level. Once winter is over, their cells, tissues and organs start to function until they reach their usual capacity without any difference. They can hop around and start their springtime day. They gain a vital advantage by doing this; since all animals that are still hibernating under water, it’s the Wood Frogs that get to the vernal pools first and start finding food and breeding. Wood Frogs represent extreme evolutionary outcomes. There is still much to study from this species since their natural hibernation mechanism can help improve the science of organ preservation for human transplants, glucose management for diabetic patients and reperfusion injuries in heart attacks and strokes. Understanding what Wood Frog’s have been doing for eons can help save human lives in the future!


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Bibliography http://www.naturenorth.com/spring/creature/woodfrog/wf2.html http://www.naturenorth.com/winter/frozen/Ffrozen2.html https://www.units.miamioh.edu/cryolab/projects/woodfrogfreezing.htm https://owlcation.com/stem/Frozen-Wood-Frogs-and-Adaptations-for-Survival

Climate Change is costing Fred, Martha and Canada’s biodiversity
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Climate Change is costing Fred, Martha and Canada’s biodiversity

[caption id="attachment_36177" align="alignleft" width="150"] Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel[/caption] On Thursday May 24, Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel at Nature Canada, testified before the Senate Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee. He voiced Nature Canada’s support for the proposed Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. This proposed legislation would put a price on carbon emissions (initially $10 per tonne) released when fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel oil are burned. Stephen opened by stating that climate change is probably the biggest global threat to nature and biodiversity, and pointed out that carbon pricing clearly has been demonstrated to be the most economically efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. After describing the failed promises and inaction over three decades of Liberal and Conservative governments to put a price on carbon, Stephen reviewed the catastrophic impacts that extreme weather events linked to climate change have had on Canadian communities in the past decade

The Cost of Catastrophes

  • The City of Calgary had two “100-year floods” in 8 years, the most recent of which in 2013 resulted in $6 billion in financial losses and property damage.
  • In May 2016 almost 90,000 people were evacuated from Fort McMurray due to wildfires. Thousands of homes were reduced to ash. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the Fort McMurray wildfire is the costliest insured natural disaster in Canadian history, with an estimated $3.77 billion in claims filed by mid-November 2016.
  • In spring 2017, the military was called in to deal with flooding in Montreal, Gatineau and Ottawa. The flooding caused more than $220 million dollars in insurable damage in Ottawa alone.
  • Last summer, British Columbia recorded the worst fire season in the history of the province. More than 1,300 fires burned more than 1.2 million hectares, displacing 65,000 people from their homes and costing B.C. over $500 million.

Fred & Martha need the government to take action on Climate Change

The bottom line is that the costs of inaction on climate change now far exceed the costs of action. In response to a question from Sen. Neufeld about how the ‘Freds & Marthas’--average Canadians struggling to make ends meet-- could pay higher gas prices, Stephen noted that he also worries about the Freds and Marthas whose homes have been flooded or burned down in the Saint John Valley, Gatineau, Fort McMurray and Grand Forks as well as Freds and Marthas in Surrey who may lose their homes as sea levels rise. Stephen added that there are Freds and Marthas across Canada who seriously affected by climate change already, and we have to look after all of them. Stephen then argued that the key is to make a start now to reduce Canada’s carbon pollution and stop fiddling while our communities burn and drown. Nature Canada urges the Senate to complete its review and enact this bill in an expeditious manner.

Watch the video below for more on Nature Canada's stance on the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.

https://youtu.be/hZ_uHIH9Vw8  
For more on this Nature Canada's advocacy work, please consult the following Hazell at the House of Commons on Bill C-69 Graham Saul on Climate Change, Carbon Pricing and Ordinary Canadians
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Indigenous Action and The Red Knot
Claudio Timm
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Indigenous Action and The Red Knot

Image of Rufus the Red KnotThe Red Knot The Rufa Red Knot is a subspecies of arctic-breeding shorebird that breed in the central arctic of Canada. It has a long, thin beak for probing sand, silt and mud. Its long legs allow it to navigate the shallow waters of the tidal flats, beaches, rocky headlands and coastal wetlands where it gathers to find safety in numbers from predators. Long wings allow it to travel thousands of kilometres per day during its migratory period. Rufa Red Knots fly over 30,000 kilometers a year, traveling from the central arctic of Canada to the southern tip of Chile. They brood up to four eggs in June for about three weeks, after which the mother starts her migration soon after the eggs hatch, while the father continues to tend its young until they can fly. These unique and vital birds are officially endangered, with only one Red Knot currently living for every ten that were alive 50 years ago. Red Knots face many challenges when migrating, which have become only more numerous over the years due to humanity’s influence on the environment. Stop-over habitats are especially at risk of being destroyed by industrial and urban development projects that range from city expansion to resorts and to even shrimp farms. Recreational human activities, as well as feral cats and dogs, can often scare away shorebirds from stop over areas, leaving them unable to rest or feed appropriately on their journey south. These difficulties are further complicated by their migration season lining up with tropical storm season. [button link="http://naturecanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Rufus.pdf" size="medium" target="_self" color="red" lightbox="true "]Make sure to check out our short comic illustrating the struggles of being Rufus the Red Knot here![/button] James Bay Cree Community Involvement with the Red Knot Communities such as the Moose Cree First Nation (MCFN) on southern James Bay are very interested in conserving Red Knot populations that pass through their homelands on James Bay, with the help of their partners in government, research, and non-governmental groups. The habitat used by the knots is the same habitat that supports geese that migrate through at a different time.  Geese are a staple of the Cree diet. The MCFN are increasingly participating in surveys of shorebirds, including Red Knots. For the knots, many are outfitted with bands on their lets, including a coloured “flag” that, based on the colour, can be used to determine where the bird was captured.

Keeping an eye out for the colored flags of previously banded birds is one way that local people are able to add to the knowledge of this species. Furthermore, to help scientists further track the movements of Red Knots, MCFN has participated in CWS-led efforts to attach nano transmitters to little backpacks on some birds that can be detected by receiver antennae erected around the James Bay and throughout other locations in North, Central and South America. This system is known as Motus, and is a project of Bird Studies Canada that allows for tracking of bird movements in real time. The transmitter’s signal can be detected within about 15 kilometres of a receiving station.

The Moose Cree First Nation is pursuing nomination of the coastal area of James Bay within their homelands as a WHSRN (Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network) site. A WHSRN is a conservation strategy created in the 1980s aimed at preserving nesting, breeding, and staging habitats. Establishing a WHSRN in James Bay would be a great achievement for the Cree, and the shorebird conservation community, who have recognized the importance of this area for shorebirds for decades. Nature Canada has been supporting MCFN efforts with the nomination, and continues to do so, through the support of the Commission on Environmental Cooperation.

Learn more about what the Moose Cree First Nation are doing for Shorebird populations here:

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Carbon Pricing, Climate Change, and Ordinary Canadians
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Carbon Pricing, Climate Change, and Ordinary Canadians

Image of Graham SaulOn Monday, May 7th Graham Saul, the Executive Director of Nature Canada testified before the Finance Committee at the House of Commons, who are considering Bill C-74. Graham remarked that Nature Canada is truly excited about the promise of expending this $1.3 billion prudently over five years to reverse the decline in biodiversity in Canada by establishing and managing protected areas and recovering species at risk. He continued by thanking the Government of Canada, and the 116 members of Parliament that supported the Green Budget Coalition's recommendation for this historical investment.


During his testimony, Graham touched upon the subject of Greenhouse Gas pollution, and highlighted the impact of inaction - which has seemingly been the status quo since 1992. It was over twenty-six years ago, in May of 1992, that Canada signed the United Nations Framework on Climate Change.
"It has been over twenty-five years since Canada promised to reduce its Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and we've barely begun to follow through on that promise."
Continuing on that thought, Graham noted the promise that was made fourteen years ago, when Prime Minister Paul Martin first announced plans to put a price on GHG pollution by creating a market for emission reductions in all sectors of the economy. "[...] and it never happened." [caption id="attachment_36844" align="alignright" width="300"] Graham Saul, at the House of Commons. Photo by Alex Tétreault.[/caption] Graham then moved on to more recent events, or lack thereof, in 2008 when the Conservative Federal Environmental Minister John Baird called carbon trading a "key part" of the government's new turning the corner plan to reduce GHG emissions, and then, later on that year the Conservative government of Stephen Harper won a minority mandate with a campaign that clearly pledged to develop and implement a cap and trade system for GHG and air pollution. Moving onto 2015, Canadians supported a Liberal election platform that made a clear commitment to put a price on GHG pollution. None of these have happened. While there was inaction in Government, mother nature wasn't one to wait. From the devastation caused by two "100 year floods" in Calgary in only eight years, then the forest fires that forced 90,000 people from their homes in Fort McMurray, followed by the forest fires in British-Columbia, the flooding in Gatineau and Ottawa, and the current flooding in New Brunswick - there is no denying that climate change is  probably the biggest global threat to nature and biodiversity in Canada, right now. During the questions period, Graham highlighted "the fundamental philosophical difference that we have is, do you actually care about that problem?" He continued on by saying that "If, in fact, everyone around this table does truly care about this problem ... then every party around the table has a responsibility to come forward with a plan that reflects the fact that they truly want to try to address it. And in absence of that plan it's very difficult to come to the conclusion that we do in fact share a concern about this problem."
After the committee hearing, Graham reiterated two main points. Watch below to hear Nature Canada's thoughts on the historical investment into nature in Canada, and desired outcome for the https://youtu.be/SArBFeFrz4s
For further media coverage by CBC who highlighted how Graham brought to the committee's attention that: "[...] we have a serious problem on our hands. If you actually believe in the science ... then you have to draw the conclusion that it would be reckless and irresponsible to continue on the trajectory that we are on today. That it would fundamentally undermine the well-being of our children and that it would cause potentially unprecedented harm to our economy and to future generations," As well as in the National Observer, when Graham brought attention to the flooding in New Brunswick, stating that "We need to stop fiddling when places like New Brunswick drown [...]"
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Women for Nature: Concrete Solutions for Biodiversity Conservation
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Women for Nature: Concrete Solutions for Biodiversity Conservation

[caption id="attachment_36775" align="alignleft" width="150"] Jaime Clifton-Ross[/caption] This blog post was written by Jaime Clifton and provides the summary of the keys points of discussion during the latest Women for Nature E-Dialogue. Changing the Conversation and Nature Canada’s Women for Nature just led the final e-Dialogue from the Biodiversity Conversations: How important are the common loon and polar bear to Canadians series. Over the last 8 months, over 20 female researchers, practitioners, and civil society leaders explored local to global actions and strategies for biodiversity conservation. Since the series began in September 2017, several critical reports have been published. WWF’s 2017 Living Planet Report for Canada in 2017 disclosed that 50% of species in our country are in decline. The newly published 2018 State of the World’s Birds global study states that 1 in 8 birds are now facing the threat of extinction. Furthermore, the world’s greatest forests could lose more than half of all wildlife by the end of the century, according to another WWF study. Given these alarming trends, the protection of biodiversity has never been more imperative. While there were many great recommendations and ideas, here is a snapshot:

  • Indigenous Collaboration and Leadership: Prioritize collaboration and authentic partnerships between Indigenous systems and western systems at all levels. The newly released ICE (Indigenous Circle of Experts) report speaks to re-inventing institutions to reflect a systems-based approach.
  • We are a part of nature, not apart from nature: Our governance systems are profoundly linear and fragmented, and reflect the dominant belief that nature and culture are separate. Seeing ourselves as a part of nature, not apart from nature, even in our cities, will help (re)connect Canadians to biodiversity and is a critical communications strategy. Also, reposition conservation as an urban initiative and challenge to speak to the growing number of urban dwellers in Canada.
  • Investment and Finance: Greater education about the Aichi Targets for the Canadian public, but more specifically, business and investment leaders should be invited to contribute to enabling the financing and financing tools that will be necessary for Canada to reach its goals.
  • Language and Messaging: Given the overwhelming and negative messaging on biodiversity loss, communicate issues clearly and present them in a positive and personal way. Also, showcase successful efforts and innovations to help spur change at the personal, community, provincial, national and international levels.
  • Mapping: Create/expand an interactive and ongoing map of the critical habitat of endangered and near to endangered species and make these priority areas, as a learning and awareness tool.
Now that the series has come to a close, Women for Nature co-chair, Professor Ann Dale will be drafting an action agenda for Canadian decision-makers summarizing the concrete recommendations for biodiversity conservation in Canada.

Imagine if we design with biodiversity in mind, the possibilities that would open up!

Click here, to view the full conversation transcript.


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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Eh?
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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Eh?

[caption id="attachment_36590" align="alignleft" width="150"] Tina-Louise Rossit,
Guest Blogger.[/caption] This post was written by guest blogger Tina-Louise Rossit. Canada is pretty lucky; we’re home to many animals that stay year-round annnnd we’re also a perfect summer home for a number of species! Around springtime, Canadians get to enjoy seeing spectacular birds, mammals and fish that migrate to Canada for summer. Some animals have pretty neat characteristics that set them apart. Sometimes it’s a funny appearance, other times it’s a unique behaviour, but there’s always an interesting evolutionary history. Learning about them makes us appreciate how fantastic wildlife actually is! Today’s honourary species is a fan favourite for bird watchers; hummingbirds! Have you ever noticed you can’t really focus on their wings, even if you take a photograph? Ever wonder, how is this tiny bird hovering so fast? Well, today is your day because it’s time to chat about these tiny flyers! Canada has five species of hummingbirds that migrate here during our warm months. The most widespread species is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird ranging from Nova Scotia to Alberta. It’s easy to recognized hummingbirds since before you see them, you’ll hear them. As their common name suggests, hummingbirds make humming sounds as they flap their wings 80 times per second. They can zip through gardens and flowerbeds foraging for food and hover in the air for long periods of time. All that flying needs energy, and hummingbirds will feed on nectar primarily, but also tree sap, small insects and pollen. A hummingbird will consume about twice their body weight in nectar per day! They forage for tubular-shaped flowers that fit their long beaks and tongues. When calculated, it’s a lot of non-stop flying! And then, add in the migration mileage every year, it’s no wonder their tiny bodies had to accommodate. Scientists use newer computer technologies to make 3D stimulations of hummingbird aerodynamics. Results show that hummingbirds have evolved a balanced middle between the insect and the avian flight mechanisms. A hummingbird’s wing is more triangular-shaped then other birds. Their shoulder-to-wrist bones are compacted near their abdomen, leaving a straighter wrist-to-phalanges. This shape allows optimal aerodynamics for lift, wingbeat, and manoeuverability for both hovering and rapid back-and-forth movement. Physiologically, hummingbirds can uptake oxygen very fast, allowing the heart to beat faster and constantly supply oxygen to their muscles to perform. Their metabolic rate is fast and surprisingly efficient despite the main source of energy being a sugary drink! Even their muscle-mass-specific metabolism, or how each muscle uses up fuel, was found to have the highest rates for vertebrates. Hummingbirds inhabit a variety of regions from the tropics to the mountains, however changes in altitude and air chemistry doesn’t seem to be a problem for a hummingbird’s cardiac and respiration systems to adapt. Honestly, hummingbirds should make any athletes jealous!   In all, hummingbirds represent many extremes in the natural world. Being so small and so fast is just what we see on the outside. Biologists want to continue studying hummingbird physiology, because there are still unanswered physics related questions! In the meantime, with springtime arriving, keep some binoculars handy to scope out hummingbirds in your area. You can watch them zip through your gardens, flying backwards and forwards, hear their wings humming and see their evolutionary adaptions for yourself!

Tune in every month for many more fantastic animals to read about!


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Sources http://www.simplywildcanada.com/hummingbirds-in-canada/ https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Ruby-throated_Hummingbird/sounds https://www.nature.com/news/hummingbird-flight-has-a-clever-twist-1.9639 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12124359 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27595850 http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/sgc-cms/expositions-exhibitions/colibri-hummingbird/En/Hummingbird/The-Life-Of-The-Hummingbird/diet.html

A Field Guide to Insects of the Pacific Northwest
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A Field Guide to Insects of the Pacific Northwest

Published: April 7 Author: Dr. Robert Cannings Published by: Harbour Publishing Price: $ 7.95 USD


This review was written by Nature Canada's writing intern, Gabriel Planas. Accounting for 80 percent of the 1.5 million named species on earth; insects form the backbone of the biodiversity on our planet. I still did not know what a Snakefly was before picking up A Field Guide to Insects of the Pacific Northwest. I was also unaware that the terrifying bug is considered typical in the Pacific Northwest. To combat this lack of knowledge, DR. Robert Cannings created A Field Guide to Insects of the Pacific Northwest in the hopes that it would generate more interest and discussion about insects. [caption id="attachment_36344" align="alignright" width="154"] A Field Guide to Insects of the Pacific Northwest by Dr. Robert Cannings.[/caption] The 8-fold pamphlet features 70 high-quality photos with profiles on over 50 different insects.  Though the guide is priced at a steep 7.95, it still provides a good way to introduce yourself to the abundant variety of insects you will encounter in the Pacific Northwest. Being a waterproof pamphlet also makes this guide is also perfect for the hiking trails, grasslands or beaches where you may find these tiny wonders. From the introduction, I was learning more than I had ever known about insects. It hooks the reader with a plea to understand the necessity and beauty of insects. The author takes his time to clarify terms like Moulting, metamorphosis, and pupa in stark simplicity to allow the reader to engage with the material in a very casual and personal basis. The insect profiles are broken up into 19 major groups of insects, providing a brief look into their behavioral patterns, physical characteristics, and eating habits. Many times, the information provided about the insects was enough to pique my curiosity, while enough facts were left out to present further research not only as appealing but also necessary. At times, this was compelling, such as the profile of the Predaceous Diving Beetle that informed me of the air bubble that forms under the wings that allows them to breath underwater. Other times though I was disappointed with the simplicity of the profiles. Rarely did they reinforce the integral role insects play in the environment, as mentioned in the intro. It also seems like the author missed an opportunity to disclose where and how to find these insects, as they can often be tiny and hard to find. Additionally, with minimal color variation throughout the pamphlet, the 19 groups can often be difficult to differentiate and find. This confusion makes a quick scan for an insect one may see in the wild very difficult, if not impossible. While it could have pushed itself further regarding its content and layout, this guide did an adequate job to increase my knowledge and awareness of insects. Given that this was the goal of the guide, I cannot help but concede that it fulfills its purpose. If you are planning to spend time in the Pacific Northwest, this guide can be a fun addition to any other maps and travel guides you may bring with you.
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