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Nature Canada pleased that ecological integrity remains top priority for National Parks
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Nature Canada pleased that ecological integrity remains top priority for National Parks

[caption id="attachment_36177" align="alignleft" width="181"] Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel[/caption] After an icy April in Ottawa, the sun shone bright on Major Hill Park on May 7, 2018 as Environment and Climate Change MInister Catherine McKenna announced her formal response to the Let’s Talk Parks consultation. McKenna noted that she has heard loud and clear from the 37,000 Canadians—including many Nature Canada supporters--who participated in the consultation. She put forward three priorities for Parks Canada arising from Let’s Talk Parks:

  1. Protect and restore our national parks and historic sites through focused investments, working with indigenous peoples and provinces and territories to ensure the ecological integrity is the first priority in decision making
  2. Enable people to further discover and connect with our parks and heritage through innovative ideas that help share these special places with Canadians.
  3. Put in place measures that sustain for generations to come the incredible value both economic and ecological that our parks and historic sites provide for communities. The value they bring to fighting climate change, protecting wild life, including species at risk and shaping our Canadian identity and the great economic opportunities that they bring.
[caption id="attachment_36826" align="alignright" width="281"] Aiden Mahoney. Snowshoer on Pine Tree Mountain[/caption] Nature Canada agrees with these priorities subject to the overriding imperative of ensuring that Canada’s parks are protected and sustained for future generations. However, Nature Canada is troubled by the fact that the proposed Impact Assessment Act currently being debated in Parliament will not legally require impact assessments of development projects—even construction of skiing venues for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Banff National Park!! So we are not convinced that the Parks Canada is committed to using key tools to ensure that National Parks are in fact protected. McKenna also announced that entry to National Parks will be free for children aged 17 years and under. As stewards of the future, it is important for them to have a strong appreciation of our natural world: “When you connect with parks, you understand the critical importance of protecting them.” McKenna reiterated. [caption id="attachment_36827" align="alignleft" width="300"] Adrian Suszko. The National Park.[/caption] She outlined how the historic federal investment of 1.3 billion in nature conservation, announced in Budget 2018, will enable protection of Canada's natural places and recovery and preservation of species at risk. Progress is being made toward achieving Canada’s international commitment to conserving 17 percent of land and 10 percent of ocean by 2020. However, federal and provincial governments need to develop plans to establish more protected areas within their respective jurisdictions; Nature Canada will be working with provincial and local nature groups across Canada to push governments to complete these plans and get on with identifying important sites across Canada to be protected. Funds from Budget 2018 will also make it possible to secure private land, support provincial and territorial species protection efforts, and build Indigenous capacity to conserve land and species. The federal government has made it a priority to forge new relationships with First Nations and Inuit and Metis people based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnerships. Nature Canada is convinced that there is a tremendous opportunity to protect ecosystems through Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) established and managed by Indigenous organizations. Potential IPCAs include the North French River watershed in Moose Cree traditional territory in northern Ontario, and Edehzhie in Deh Cho traditional territory in western Northwest Territories. To read more about the topic, check out Newswire CTV or Canadian Geographic's media articles. For more details on the Ministers Round table 2017, visit here. Read more about  Lets Talk Parks Canada.
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Congratulations to First Ministers on Approval of Pan-Canadian Climate Framework
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Congratulations to First Ministers on Approval of Pan-Canadian Climate Framework

[caption id="attachment_22697" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] Congratulations to Prime Minister Trudeau and provincial and territorial premiers who approved the historic Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change on December 9. The Framework lays out a plan allowing Canada to do its part in addressing the looming global climate catastrophe. The Framework will be very good for nature conservation, assuming it gets implemented. Think of the Pan-Canadian Framework as the end of the beginning, certainly not the end, nor even the beginning of the end, to paraphrase Churchill. Establishing a national approach to carbon pricing in the Framework was an especially hard-fought victory; kudos to the Prime Minister and Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, for getting Canada going as a nation on pricing carbon emissions. The Framework recognizes that living natural infrastructure such as restoring or building wetlands and urban forests can build the resilience of communities and ecosystems to cope with climate-related hazards such as flooding and wildfires. Investing in natural adaptation solutions can reduce disaster risks but also benefit biodiversity and provide new opportunities for Canadians to experience nature. The Framework also recognizes that protecting and restoring natural areas, such by creating new National Parks, National Wildlife Areas, provincial parks or indigenous protected areas, can also benefit biodiversity and maintain or enhance carbon storage. What are some next specific steps the federal government could take to deliver the Pan-Canadian Framework while advancing nature conservation? Here are a few key Green Budget Coalition recommendations for the 2017 budget:

  • Allocate 30 per cent of Green Infrastructure funding for natural infrastructure investments
  • Invest $145 million in 2017-18 and $95 million subsequently to establish new protected areas to meet Canada’s international commitments on biodiversity and climate change
  • Phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
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Women Come Together for Nature
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Women Come Together for Nature

[caption id="attachment_11729" align="alignleft" width="90"]Image of Jodi Joy Jodi Joy
Director of Development[/caption] Nature Canada’s Board and staff were pleased to celebrate women’s leadership for nature at the Women for Nature reception held on Parliament Hill on June 7, 2016.  With many guests finding opportunities to meet other female leaders and re-connect with friends and former colleagues, the evening revolved around spirited conversation and inspiring stories of personal connections to nature. [caption id="attachment_28226" align="alignright" width="300"]Image of Catherine McKenna Minister McKenna at the Women for Nature reception[/caption] The highlight of this memorable evening was the opening speech featuring the 101st founding member, Catherine McKenna, the Minister for the Environment and Climate Change. Minister McKenna shared personal reflections on how important spending time in nature.  She spoke about the pressing challenge of climate change and encouraged women’s leadership to overcome climate change.  MP Elizabeth May then spoke about the Minister McKenna’s leadership at the UN climate meeting in Paris and how we must all come together across sectors as our future depends on action now. Nature Canada’s Executive Director, Eleanor Fast, thanked all the founding members of Women for Nature for being excellent champions of Nature Canada’s work to connect more Canadians to nature.  She also thanked them for supporting our efforts to engage more kids and families with nearby nature through our NatureHood program activities which expanded to 10 cities reaching thousands of children with nature activities. [caption id="attachment_28058" align="alignleft" width="192"]Image of Darwin the Great Horned Owl Darwin the Great Horned Owl[/caption] We introduced our two new co-Chairs for Women for Nature, Prof. Ann Dale and Dr. Brenda Kenny who spoke about the exciting Caucus work and proposed incubator projects around the themes of biodiversity conservation; engaging young girls with nature and STEM, and mentoring future leaders in nature and sustainability to be launched to coincide with Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.

"Nature’s future, our future, requires us to collaborate, innovate, and lead.  We are working together to sustain biodiversity and heart-felt connection to nature across this great country." - Prof Ann Dale and Dr. Brenda Kenny
Guests also visited with Darwin, a great horned owl who represents the beautiful and unique biodiversity that we all appreciate and want to protect. Our Honorary Chair, Senator Janis Johnson thanked all the guests for attending the evening’s celebration and reminded everyone to take time to enjoy the outdoors, as she does on Lake Winnipeg for stress relief and enjoyable family moments. We have a new ambitious goal to be 150 women strong by Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017. We look forward to inviting other professional women with a deep personal connection to nature to also become involved with the Women for Nature initiative. Contact us to learn more. [rev_slider WomenForNature16]  

Many thanks to our corporate sponsors for their generous support of the event:

Sustainable Forestry Initiative, the Royal Bank of Canada, Allegra Marketing Print and Mail, Global Public Affairs, Borden Ladner Gervais, Agents of Good, Southbrook Vineyards, Henry of Pelham, Pelee Island Winery, and SteamWhistle

You can read more about why nature inspires some of our newest founding members:

Stephanie Foster – President, Fostering Sustainability "Nature inspires, teaches and sustains us.  As a Woman for Nature, I look forward to sharing with a new generation of young leaders my appreciation of nature and the gifts it gives us." Anne Fouillard – President, Fouduck "Nature is the Gaia – ecology that links the natural world to humans – understanding it will save our world.  That’s why it’s so important that everyone appreciate how this fit into the overall picture." Genevieve Young – COO, Global Public Affairs "Canada’s outdoor spaces, waterways, wildlife and natural resources are what binds this country together. I grew up on camp sites in Algonquin, in canoes on northern Ontario lakes and fishing in Northern BC. Through Women for Nature, I hope to help create these same kinds of opportunities for children in urban settings and to help ensure that these opportunities can exist for generations of children to come." Prof Kim Matheson – Dept. of Neuroscience, Carleton University "Protection of nature is important because it is our spiritual, emotional and physical life blood.  I’m involved with Women for Nature as it’s important that women who are in a position to advocate for the protection of nature, and to mentor and serve as role models for future generations, take on that responsibility. If we don’t, we can hardly expect others to do it for us." Dr. Sarah Otto – University of British Columbia "Canada’s natural landscapes are awe inspiring, but they are also some of the fastest changing.  Nature Canada is an important voice for protecting our wildlife, helping to ensure that future generations may also be awed and sustained by our natural resources." Sandy Sharkey – Boom 99.7 Radio Announcer "Encouraging today’s children to connect with nature is the best way to ensure that nature is protected forever.  I am thrilled to be a member of Nature Canada’s “Women for Nature” initiative. Let’s work together to ensure that nature continues to be the ultimate backdrop for children for generations to come." Janet Bax – Strategic Advisor, Council of Science Academies "I became involved with Women for Nature because nature has always been important to me  - Women for Nature allows me to connect with others to find ways to preserve our nature heritage and to use nature to promote other important skills, such as STEM, and to interest young women in ways to become leaders in nature." Lyn Brown – Corporate Knights "I grew up on a farm in northern Alberta. My mom was a born naturalist and teacher. We calendared the return of songbirds each spring, read the sky for storms, and gauged the seasons by wildlife patterns. We grew plants favoured by bees and let natural vegetation reclaim cleared spaces. Women for Nature enables the gift of being “close to the land” as kids to be preserved and shared no matter where home is for Canadians." Giulia Brutesco – Senior Director, Fertilizer Canada "The earth provides us with such greatness.  We, as Canadians, are lucky to be surrounded by such a diverse natural environment that not only offers its beauty, but also offers a rich quality of life. We must be the guardians of this great resource to ensure it can continue to thrive and provide for generations." Dawn Carr – Executive Director, Canadian Parks Council “My nature as a kid was found in the creeks and ditches, walks to school, and sub-urban life….  I was not introduced to the diversity Canada’s spectacular nature until high school — through Ontario Rangers — that opened my eyes to the professional opportunities that nature offers to all Canadians.  My life since that experience has been driven by a love that runs deep and a desire to ensure that our nature is protected, valued and loved by all." Candice Batista – Eco-Journalist "There is nothing more important to me than the conservation and sustainability of Nature. Working with Nature Canada to ensure that future generations have the opportunity to enjoy nature, like I did when I was a kid, is simply imperative to me. We only have one planet. We have a responsibility to take care of it. In the same way it takes care of us."
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Amendments to the Rouge National Urban Park Act represent a huge conservation achievement says Nature Canada Conservation experts
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Amendments to the Rouge National Urban Park Act represent a huge conservation achievement says Nature Canada Conservation experts

Ottawa, ON (June 9, 2016) ― Nature Canada applauds today’s introduction of amendments to the Rouge National Urban Park Act by federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna. The amendments address key conservation oversights in the original 2015 version of the Act, namely making the maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity the top priority in the park’s management. “It is important that Rouge National Urban Park, just like its national park counterparts across Canada, be managed with ecological integrity as the first priority,” says Eleanor Fast, Executive Director of Nature Canada, “As Canada’s voice for nature, we’re very happy to see Minister McKenna’s acknowledgement of this and we applaud and support her for improving upon the original legislation,” she adds. Rouge National Urban Park protects one of Canada’s most biodiverse ecozones – home to a number of rare and at-risk species, and unique ecosystems that are not adequately captured in the country’s protected areas network. The park also falls on the eastern edge of one of Canada’s largest metropolitan areas, the Greater Toronto Area, making it an important and accessible area for millions of urban Canadians to connect with nature. Nature Canada’s national NatureHood program speaks to the same objective, citing the value of urban protected areas in addressing so-called “nature deficit disorder”. The amendments introduced in today’s Bill improve the ecological protections for Rouge National Urban Park. They ensure that park management decisions necessarily protect natural resources and natural processes, giving nature the best chance to flourish. “The Rouge National Urban Park represents a huge conservation achievement in one of Canada’s most heavily populated and developed regions,” says Alex MacDonald, Nature Canada’s Senior Conservation Manager. “With today’s amendments we’re confident that Parks Canada’s management decisions for the area will enhance nature and natural processes over time – a key proviso given the unique setting for this park.” he adds. Nature Canada looks forward to reviewing future management plans for the site to see how enhanced landscape connectivity and the maintenance and restoration of ecological integrity are taken into consideration. - 30 - To arrange an interview, please contact: Janet Weichel McKenzie, 613-808-4642 or jweichelmckenzie@gmail.com Alex MacDonald, Senior Conservation Manager, Nature Canada - 613-324-7003 (mobile) or amacdonald@naturecanada.ca About Nature Canada Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, Nature Canada has helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, Nature Canada represents a network of more than 45,000 members and supporters and more than 350 nature organizations across the country, with affiliates in every province. Nature Canada focuses on effecting change on issues of national significance including bird conservation,  citizen science initiatives, urban nature initiatives, building a national network of conservation organizations, building a network of volunteers to care for critical natural habitat sites across Canada and being a voice for nature at the federal level.

New Pipeline Environmental Assessment Principles welcomed–with reservations  
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New Pipeline Environmental Assessment Principles welcomed–with reservations  

[caption id="attachment_16447" align="alignleft" width="150"]Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] Nature Canada welcomes with reservations the interim principles for pipeline hearings announced by Nature Resources Minister Jim Carr and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna on January 27, 2016. These principles include undertaking deeper consultations with indigenous peoples, assessing upstream greenhouse gas emissions, engaging communities through a Ministerial representative, and extending the time frames for government decisions on the Trans Mountain and Energy East Pipeline/Tanker projects being reviewed by the National Energy Board. During the January 27, 2016 media conference, Ministers Carr and McKenna repeatedly emphasized the importance of evidence-based decision making in the pipeline review process. Unfortunately, the Ministers are not requiring the National Energy Board to reinstate the rights of intervenors such as Nature Canada to cross-examine witnesses during hearings. This right was denied to Nature Canada and BC Nature in the NEB’s Trans Mountain hearings. In Nature Canada’s view, cross-examination is a critical tool to test evidence in hearings to get at the truth of issues such as risks of oil tanker spills. Image of an oil tankerSection 36(5) of the NEB’s Rules of Practice and Procedure provide for the cross-examination of evidence filed by parties to a proceeding. The NEB has the power to dispense with its Rules when in the public interest; however the heavy weight of public concern and the significant environmental and socio-economic risks associated with the Trans Mountain and Energy East projects demand a high standard of procedural justice regarding the testing of evidence. Nature Canada calls on Ministers Carr and McKenna to ensure that cross examination remains a key feature of all future NEB hearings including Energy East. Ministers Carr and McKenna provided repeated assurances that no project currently under review would be required to “return to square one”. It is possible, however, to apply the principle of evidence-based, scientific decision-making to NEB hearings without returning to square one. Section 52(7) of the National Energy Board Act provides Minister Carr and the Governor in Council with the authority to extend the time limit for the NEB to submit its report. A small extension would be sufficient for interveners to test Trans Mountain’s evidence through cross examination and, in so doing, apply the principle of evidence-based decision making. Nature Canada is concerned in particular that risks and potential effects of a catastrophic spill from an oil tanker in the Salish Sea or Vancouver Harbour have not been properly assessed by the National Energy Board.  Hearings on pipeline/tanker projects must rigorously examine the risks and environmental effects of potential oil spills if the Government of Canada expects to regain the confidence of Canadians in the environmental assessment process. [callout title="To Learn More" button="Read the article here" link="http://www.desmog.ca/2016/01/28/trans-mountain-oil-pipeline-review-vexed-outset" buttoncolor="alternative-1" target="_blank or _self"]Read why our lawyer Chris Tollefson feels the lack of cross-examination has vexed the process.[/callout] Email Signup

The Paris Agreement – What does it really mean for Canada? 
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The Paris Agreement – What does it really mean for Canada? 

[caption id="attachment_22697" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] The Paris Agreement signed Saturday by virtually all the countries of the world is truly a major success.  Congratulations to Prime Minister Trudeau and Environment Minister McKenna for playing such a constructive role in the negotiations. But let’s also thank Louise Comeau, Steven Guilbeault, Elizabeth May and the many other environmentalists who kept hope alive--pushing for an international agreement despite 10 years of obstructionism from the previous government. The Agreement commits governments to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C. A fund of at least $100 billion to finance climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in developing countries is established. Governments are called upon to conserve and enhance sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases (such as forests and grasslands).Image of caribou Implementing the Paris Agreement is a huge challenge for Canada let alone less-developed countries. In effect, implementation means that fossil fuel production would be phased out globally in the coming decades and replaced by renewable energy sources and much more efficient use of all energy supplies. So for Canada, one question is: should any new oil, natural gas, or coal infrastructure (e.g., mines, pipelines, tanker terminals)  be approved for what are in essence sunset industries?  If Canada is serious about meeting its commitments under the Paris Agreement, shouldn’t the billions of dollars needed to build the proposed Northern Gateway, Trans Mountain and Energy East projects be redirected to financing low-carbon renewable energy projects and to improving the energy efficiency of our homes, industries and vehicles?  Shouldn’t the pro-fossil fuel regulatory boards such as the National Energy Board and the offshore boards be replaced by boards with a low-carbon mandate? Shouldn’t all subsidies and export development financing to the fossil fuel industry be cancelled?  The benefits to nature of avoiding the negative impacts of fossil fuel megaprojects would be enormous. Finally, shouldn’t all government be making every effort to protect and grow forests and grasslands, which we know are critically important sinks for greenhouse gas emissions—as well as for wildlife and nature? Email Signup

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