Changing the dominant narratives about the protection of nature

Changing the dominant narrative about the protection of nature

From the Making Biodiversity Count Series

Changing the dominant narrative about the protection of nature

From the Making Biodiversity Count Series

By Professor Ann Dale, Chair, National Environmental Treasure, Director,
School of Environment and Sustainability, Royal Roads University.

Biodiversity Action Agenda Item 1.2

Many Indigenous Peoples in Canada share worldviews that the natural world is not separate from humans, but is a place where all living beings and spirits are connected. The principle of natural laws (ICE Report, 2018) offers an important pathway to (re)connect all Canadians to the land and the need to protect habitats, cultural and biological diversity. This highlights the importance of collaboration and partnership with Indigenous systems at all levels.

The second recommendation from our Biodiversity Action Agenda refers to Indigenous peoples’ worldviews, where the natural world is not separate from humans but is a place where all living beings and spirits are connected. This is an incredibly important worldview as it can help further reconciliation for all peoples as we reconnect with the physical places in which we live and play, not only in the wilderness but in cities and our neighbourhoods. It is also key to responding to the biodiversity crisis as we work to reverse the sixth mass extinction predicted by the 2019 Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report. We cannot have our cake and eat it too. We also cannot continue to develop everywhere without considering biodiversity in our official community plans and other planning strategies. In many cases, it means designing with nature and biodiversity, not against them. This includes wildlife crossings that ensure large landscape connectivity for migrating animals, as referenced in the first item in our action agenda.

Osprey Hunting - watercolour - Leanne Cadden
'Osprey Hunting', by Leanne Cadden, watercolour

“In many cases, it means working with biodiversity, not against it.”

“We Rise Together: Achieving Pathway to Canada Target 1 through the creation of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas in the spirit and practice of reconciliation”, known as the ICE Report, was published in 2018 and contains important lessons for changing the dominant narratives about the conservation and protection of nature. In addition to recommending the creation of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) and the Indigenous Guardians program, the conservation approaches discussed in the report “build on the notion that protected and conserved areas do not represent an assertion of rights, but rather an exercise of responsibility through the lens of natural law”. As described in the report, “they are non-negotiable and originate in higher universal principals connected to observations of nature and the principle of peaceful relationship with the rest of creation in the forms of duty, responsibility and guardianship of the lands and waters”.

Given Canada’s complex federal/provincial jurisdictions, it is clear that if we are to achieve Canada’s goal of protecting 30% of terrestrial land by 2030 and NET’s larger goal of 50% by 2050, we need unprecedented collaboration of government departments, municipalities, Indigenous Nations, and communities. Integrating Indigenous leadership and knowledge into Canada’s traditional parks establishment may help us meet 30% before 2030 and give greater meaning to reconciliation, including reconciliation of all peoples and their relationship to the land.

How can you make biodiversity count?

To support Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas, share the Indigenous Circle of Expert’s report with your local leaders. You can also explore and share The Indigenous Guardians Toolkit to learn how you can help support or fund a program.

About 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.

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