Our planet is a very different place today than when your grandparents were born. Despite the copious amount of conservation work occurring on a daily basis by citizens, volunteers and environmental groups, biodiversity is continuing to be lost in Canada. We need to restore Earth's "factory settings."
There's nothing like the potential loss of Earth's rich biodiversity and planetary life support systems to make one feel, well, a little overwhelmed. Our individual actions can seem like small roles on a very big stage. But it's important to remember that our current crisis of biodiversity loss didn't result from one catastrophic event.
Canada's greatest contribution to sustaining our planet's biodiversity and ecological services may very well be our abundance. From some of the world's largest intact forests and wetlands, to wild northern rivers, to spectacles of bird and mammal migrations, Canada is one of only a handful of countries with true wilderness and wild spaces remaining.
There has been a lot of attention and coverage in recent days about close relations between Canada and the United States and meetings between our respective political leaders to discuss issues of mutual interest. Among these many common issues, one area where there has been friendship and considerable goodwill for more than 30 years is the shared pursuit of conservation.
To this day, the grassy landscapes of Ireland remain free of any snake species. And despite the popular tale of Saint Patrick banishing them all, they always have. According to scientists, there has never been any fossil evidence of snakes found on the island; proving no snake has ever slithered on Irish soil. It is believed snakes were unable to reach these lands due to the Ice Age, which kept Irish territory too cold for snakes to survive.
An earthship is an off-grid home that produces its own energy, captures its own water, treats its own wastewater, grows its own food and passively collects the sun's energy for heat. That's the idea, anyways. But ever since the Kinney Earthship was built in the summer of 2014, Duncan Kinney has received many emails about one particular subject: how does it hold up so far north?
The Great Bear Rainforest Agreement was negotiated by such a diverse group of interests that at times consensus seemed all but impossible. Independent conservation science played a key role in bringing these seemingly incompatible interests to the same table. The science helped them find common ground when discussing how to manage and relate to this very special place.
The agreement between government, industry, First Nations and environmental groups to protect much of the Great Bear Rainforest should be celebrated. However, while the agreement helps protect grizzly bear and other wildlife habitat, it doesn't protect the bears themselves, contrary to B.C. Premier Christy Clark's claims at a news conference.
On the first day of February 2006, a landmark agreement that has been called "one of the most visionary forest conservation plans on Earth" was inked by First Nations elders, the provincial government and environmentalists. Eighty five per cent of the Great Bear Rainforest -- at 3.1 million hectares, an area roughly twice the size of Vancouver Island -- is permanently off limits to logging.
If you used water today to brush your teeth, cook or quench your thirst, you should probably thank a wetland! World Wetlands Day, celebrated every February 2nd, is an opportunity to learn about the value and importance of wetlands to Canadians. If you're wondering why you should care, consider what wetlands do for us.
After years of steady, but slow, steps in nature conservation, our collective stride seems to have lengthened in 2015. We still need to act on commitments to create more terrestrial and marine protected areas. We still have Canadian species that are at risk of disappearing. We still have parks and protected areas that need to be buffered and better connected.
Canada has a rare opportunity, indeed an obligation, to be a world leader in the conservation of natural habitat and by doing so to contribute directly to the fight against climate change. Conservation of our natural ecosystems is integral to any effective Canadian strategy to slow climate change and to mitigate its effects. Significant scientific evidence shows that the destruction and clearing of forests, grasslands and wetlands, in addition to the burning of fossil fuels, has resulted in a substantial increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere.
Without the forest and the economic activity it generates, the North Shore, the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and all the other forest regions of Quebec would not have experienced the same level of economic development that has benefited all Quebecers. However, forestry activity could fall sharply in the fairly near future.
It is bad enough that the government allows multinational companies to privatize a public resource, it is even worse that taxpayers are being hosed by charging so little for it. Several industries get a total free ride when it comes to taking our water. Those who do pay for taking water are charged a paltry $3.71 per million litres used. This is not a typo.
Killing more bears will do little to reduce nuisance bears while municipalities continue to allow plastic bags of garbage at curbside. Reducing attractants and learning to live with black bears is the solution -- not the expansion of a poorly monitored, scientifically unsupported and inhumane spring bear hunt.
Canadians steward not just about nine per cent of all the world's forests, but a whopping 25 per cent of the planet's most intact and pristine forests. Despite everything forests provide to Canada, our collective stewardship of this quintessential Canadian landscape may be falling behind. Canada is one of only a few developed countries continuing to lose forest.