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Wildlife populations devastated since 1970, suggests new WWF-Canada report - but there is hope

WWF-Canada released one of the most shocking reports of the year yesterday. The Living Planet Report Canada examined the state of Canada’s wildlife populations and confirms the sobering loss of biodiversity in Canada, concluding that half of vertebrate wildlife species in Canada have suffered population declines since 1970, with an average loss of 83% among declining populations. Habitat loss due to agricultural and industrial land clearing, the over-harvesting of wildlife, climate change, and pollution are all indicators of drivers of these declines.

While the results are grim, it is important to remember that there is hope. Canada has vast swaths of wilderness that are not yet compromised by habitat loss or degradation. With 90% of lands and all freshwater and ocean areas  in the public domain, owned and managed by federal, provincial, territorial or Indigenous governments, Canada has one of the best opportunities in the world to protect nature. And Canadians have an important role in determining what happens on these lands and waters.

This year, all federal, provincial and territorial governments in Canada have finally agreed to work together to deliver on our country’s commitment to protect at least 17% of land and inland waters and 10% of Canada’s oceans by the year 2020 and to set the stage for more and better protection beyond 2020. Currently we have protected about 10 percent of land and 1 percent of our ocean in Canada. Looking beyond 2020 is critically important because there is a growing scientific consensus that in order to safeguard and sustain life on this planet, including the wildlife that are struggling to survive, at least half of landscapes and oceans must be protected in an interconnected way.

The number one threat to wildlife in Canada is habitat loss. We need to act now to protect critical habitat for terrestrial and marine animals in order to stem the tide of biodiversity loss. Protection means creating more protected areas, but it is also about ensuring these areas are well-designed and managed, including strong protected areas legislation , landscape connectivity, and ecosystem representation across the country. In July 2017, CPAWS released a report offering Canadian governments a suite of recommendations for action, including areas that could be protected immediately to get started.

Although it can be tempting to bury our heads in the sand when we hear frightening news about the state of nature, we must remember that it is not too late! If we act together now, we can leave a legacy of nature in Canada for future generations of both people and wildlife.

What you can do:

  • Act to Keep Canada Wild by urging your governments to take immediate action in protecting much more of Canada’s lands and waters;
  • Donate to Environmental organizations that are working hard to protect nature for wildlife and for the future of Canada; and
  • Engage in your local, regional, or national politics and hold all levels of government accountable for nature conservation.