Canadian nature groups send clear message to Parliament: Nature needs to be a recovery budget priority
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ottawa, ON (February 19, 2021) – Nature Canada’s Nature on the Hill event wrapped up today following a virtual town hall with Ministers Jonathan Wilkinson and Bernadette Jordan viewed by over 500 supporters and nature lovers across the country. Throughout the week over 60 nature groups met virtually with 35 MPs from every party and every region of Canada. The message to government decision-makers was overwhelmingly clear: “Canada needs to act now by investing at least $4.8 billion in protected areas to address the double crises of species loss and climate change.” The $4.8 billion figure is what is needed to meet the government’s promise to protect 30 percent of Canadian land, water and ocean by 2030.
“Nature groups mobilizing together like this to demonstrate the urgency of action on conservation has a big impact,” says Hannah Dean, Organizing Director at Nature Canada. “There can be no question now what the priorities of the nature community are: we need this investment to save species, to protect threatened ecosystems and to create a world that will be able to support us and wildlife as long as we live on this planet.”
During the town hall, Minister Wilkinson and Minister Jordan fielded questions from groups and individuals about the government’s priorities as it aims to meet it’s 30×30 commitments. Some highlights:
The Mushkegowuk Council from the James Bay region of Ontario raised the issue of Indigenous-led conservation and asked specifically about protection of the peatland ecosystem in their territories and whether the government will support their interest to protect these critical landscapes in the James Bay lowlands.
The ministers responded by acknowledging Indigenous leadership and participation in conservation decision-making and emphasized the importance of Indigenous-led conservation generally. The panel recognized the important climate role that the Hudson Bay lowlands play and agreed that their protection should be a priority.
Marium Vahed from Green Ummah, a non-profit organization with the goal of creating a green movement in the Canadian Muslim community, asked how the government can make nature conservation and access to nature more equitable for racialized communities and underrepresented groups.
The Ministers noted that the Government’s reforestation strategy for Southern Canada will create new urban parks and bring high-quality natural spaces closer to urban communities across the country. They reiterated the importance of Canadians’ personal connections to nature especially children and urban communities.
There were numerous questions raised about Alberta’s coal mining on the eastern slopes of the Rockies and the dangers from selenium run-off.
The panel expressed concern about the Alberta government’s decision to open the eastern slopes to coal mining saying that the ecosystems are intact and should be protected. They recognized the impact of the public outcry in reversing that decision at the provincial level while noting that there will be continuing conversations about what projects may have been approved before the decision was reversed. The Ministers noted that the government is working on coal effluent regulations to control what such operations would have to do to manage selenium discharges in the future.
The entire event can be viewed on Nature Canada’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=866500060857714
In addition to the meetings with MPs and ministers this week, Nature Canada has also received and submitted over 20,000 letters from Canadians urging Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to ensure protected areas are a budget priority.
Nature Canada is tremendously grateful to the volunteers, nature groups, MPs and Ministers who participated in this year’s event.
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