Meeting Canada’s 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets

Meeting Canada’s 2020 Biodiversity
Goals and Targets

From the Making Biodiversity Count Series

Meeting Canada’s 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets

From the Making Biodiversity Count Series

Biodiversity Action Agenda Item 4.5

“Ensure that the 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets for Canada are met or, better, exceeded, particularly Target 1. By 2020, at least 17 percent of terrestrial areas and inland water, and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas should be conserved through networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.”

A major solution for biodiversity loss highlighted in our biodiversity action agenda is to ensure that the 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets for Canada are met. Or better yet, exceeded. In particular, Target 1, which sets a goal for protecting at least 17% of terrestrial areas and inland water along with 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020.

To give you a little context, the federal, provincial and territorial Canadian Governments collaboratively released targets and goals in 2015 in response to the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2010 and its global Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Consisting of 4 overarching goals and nineteen targets, it details how Canada will tackle biodiversity conservation based on our particular context and priorities. According to Biodiv Canada, it emphasizes improved land use planning, raising awareness of biodiversity and the ways in which people can participate in its conservation, along with “environmentally sustainable management across sectors”.

Evening Wonder Ink drawing of nature scene with campers by Leanne Cadden
"Evening Wonder" by Leanne Cadden.

What are protected areas and why are they important?

Protected areas (PA) come in many different shapes and forms. Some are protected as national parks or nature reserves while others conserve community areas or entirely wild spaces. However, their primary goal is to protect biodiversity through long term conservation efforts. They also enhance and safeguard the ecosystem services so essential to human health, wellbeing, and our livelihoods.

Canada’s Progress

Canada is close to achieving our 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets. As of January 2020, we have protected about 12% of terrestrial areas and inland waters as of December 2019 and have surpassed our target of protecting 10% of coastal and marine areas. Back in August 2019, the creation of a new marine conservation area in the Arctic made headlines as it pushed us beyond our goal. The new area, called Tuvaijuittuq (“the place where the ice never melts”), ​​​​​​is off northern Ellesmere Island and covers 427,000 square kilometers.

A month later, the Nova Scotia Government announced 17 new and expanded PA’s with 10 more on the way. They will include 10 wilderness areas, 12 nature reserves, and five provincial parks that together total 14,400 hectares, according to CBC News. More recently, Canada announced the creation of a new Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA) in the Jumbo Valley in British Columbia. Known as Qat’muk, this area is a critical habitat for wildlife and “holds spiritual significance for the Ktunaxa as the home of the Grizzly Bear Spirit,” according to the Nelson Star.

While Canada is on track to meet our targets this year, we can do better! The Federal Government has pledged to protect 25% of land and oceans by 2025 and 30% by 2030. Or imagine if we protected 50%. With higher goals of protecting our species, we have a chance at sustaining the diversity of life.

Canoeing on the Pettawawa River in Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada.
Canoeing on the Pettawawa River in Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada, circa 1927. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

How can you help make biodiversity count?

There are many ways you can help spread the word about meeting our 2020 National Biodiversity Goals and Targets for Canada. You can write, email or send a postcard to your provincial premier expressing your concerns about biodiversity loss and asking them to work with the Federal Government to protect 30% of land and oceans by 2030 or even 50% by 2050. You can also cc the Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, at Jonathan.Wilkinson@parl.gc.ca.

About the Making Biodiversity Count Series

In February 2019, the Biodiversity Action Agenda, authored by Women for Nature was published. It asks all Canadians to take immediate action on biodiversity loss as there is no recovery from extinction. As a 24-point action agenda, it offers a combination of actions, including low-hanging fruit as well as long-term systemic changes. Follow our blog for bi-weekly posts exploring each action.