The boreal forest sequesters vast amounts of carbon and methane which are greenhouse gases. (Michel Rapinski)

Scientists urge Liberals to show ‘clear path’ to meeting UN biodiversity commitments


Thirty prominent Canadian and U.S. experts in conservation biology and biodiversity have written to Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, calling on the Liberal government to do more to meet its commitments to protect 17 per cent of the country’s land and inland waters from development.

The Trudeau government has pledged to achieve Canada’s commitment under the 2010 United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity by 2020.

However, according to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Canada currently ranks last among G7 countries, with only about 12 per cent of our land and freshwater protected.

Canada also lags behind other large countries, such as Brazil, which has set aside 29.5 per cent of its landmass for protection, China (17.1 per cent), and Australia (17 per cent), according to a 2017 report by CPWS, a nature conservation charity.

Biodiversity losses worldwide and in Canada are mounting, the letter warns.

“Now, as we approach the year 2020 and the deadline for achieving the Convention on Biodiversity goal of protecting at least 17 per cent of Canada’s lands, it is vital that the implementation of a world leading conservation vision be carried out with unwavering commitment to achieving truly ground breaking results,” the letter says.

“In particular, it will be crucial for Canada to demonstrate a clear path to 17 per cent — and beyond – through the Nature Fund and other measures.”

Focus on Indigenous Protected Areas

The Edéhzhíe Indigenous Protected Area/National Wildlife Area will conserve 14,249 square kilometres of boreal forest and will be jointly managed by Dehcho First Nations and the federal government. (Bill Carpenter/Dehcho First Nations)

The letter calls on the government to prioritize creation of large Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) across Canada.

“IPCAs represent extraordinary opportunities to not only meet Canada’s international biodiversity commitments but also protect key carbon stores while at the same time contributing to renewed relationships with Indigenous Peoples,” the letter says.

“Placing these areas at the heart of Canada’s plan to meeting its current and future commitments is a key step forward for Canada and the global community.”

The letter also warns the government against “loose accounting” which would pad Canada’s total number by, for example, including in its total provincial regulations that provide development buffer zones along rivers and wetlands.

Protecting boreal regions

The Pimachiowin Aki boreal forest, which means “the land that gives life” in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe), comprises the traditional lands of four Anishinaabe communities – Poplar River, Bloodvein River, Pauingassi and Little Grand Rapids First Nations. (Pimachiowin Aki Corporation)

The scientists also call on the Liberal government to do more to protect Canada’s boreal forests.

These forests, which stretch from from Yukon and northern British Columbia to Newfoundland and Labrador, supports billions of migratory birds, including threatened species like the Whooping Crane and the Canada Warbler, as well as many species of large mammals, including both Woodland and Migratory Caribou, Grizzly Bear, Timber Wolf, and Wolverine.

The boreal region encompasses some of the world’s largest lakes, largest wetlands, and the longest undammed river systems left in North America.

Held within its peatlands and soils are over 200 billion tonnes of carbon, equivalent to decades of the world’s current greenhouse gas emissions. Ecosystem functions and services across the Boreal Forest region are also intact over most of its extent.

“Significant support of IPCAs and other strong conservation measures will be crucial to ensuring that these values are maintained into the future,” the letter says. “Such an outcome will be a sign of hope for all the people of Canada and of the world.”

McKenna’s spokesperson Bronwen Jervis said the government “welcomes the voices of scientists.”

“We are well on the way to doubling the amount of protected nature across Canada’s lands and oceans, through work with conservation organizations, private donors, Indigenous peoples, and others,” Jervis said in an emailed statement.In Budget 2018, we made the single largest investment in nature conservation in Canada’s history, establishing the $1.3 billion Nature Legacy.” 

Since 2015, Canada has added over 130,000 km2 to the network of protected areas across the country and the Liberal government is working hard to reach its nature conservation targets, Jervis added.

“More importantly, we’re putting in place the foundation that will allow significant conservation progress beyond 2020,“ Jevis said.

Categories: Environment
Tags: , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet Netiquette guidelines.

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish or in one of the two official languages, English or French. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *