Federal assessments show high levels of oil, gas and forestry activity mean no boreal Caribou herd in Alberta is likely to survive without significant changes in habitat management. In 2011, the range of the Little Smoky herd was assessed as being 95 per cent disturbed by industrial activity, and oil, gas and forestry have since caused further damage.
We have found that 86 per cent of species considered to be at risk of extinction in Canada are either deteriorating or failing to recover. Despite the fact that many of these species should be receiving protection, the government has largely failed to identify the critical habitat necessary for the species to recover, and as a result this habitat may be going unprotected. This is bad news for biodiversity.
Of 345 species at risk in Canada, more than 160 have waited far too long for recovery strategies. Thanks to a recent federal court decision, four luckier ones are finally getting overdue plans detailing steps needed to save and protect them. But court victories are just a start. It will take political will to ensure species and their habitats get the protection they need.
For those of us who are interested in the field of conservation biology, this time of year prompts us to be more thoughtful about lists of a different kind: the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada ceremoniously completes a review of (in overly simplified terms) Canada's endangered species list at the end of each year.
The Coastal Douglas Fir Zone (CDF) extends throughout the Lower Mainland's Georgia Basin and is recognized by conservation biologists as one of the most biologically unique and lush landscapes in Western Canada. Despite its degradation, the area has yet to see a sustained, coordinated effort by government, non-profits and private land owners to ensure of one of our most treasured native landscapes is conserved for future generations.
The protection of at-risk species, once maintained so well by our government, has taken a backseat to business development. Now when habitat needs to be protected to ensure the survival of a species, government and industry often balk and backpedal. This signals a failure to understand that we depend on nature for our well-being and survival.
Human-caused noise pollution harms whales, leading to death, stranding, temporary and permanent hearing loss and hemorrhaging around the brain, ears and other tissues. Sonar used in naval training is a major cause of these debilitating and often deadly injuries to whales and other aquatic animals. With their sensitive hearing, marine mammals are particularly vulnerable.