The Government of Canada increases nature protection ambition to address dual crises of biodiversity loss and climate change
Ontario: Nature is under threat due to climate change, but nature is also our very best ally in the fight against it. The climate and nature crises are inextricably linked. Climate change is altering the water cycle, resulting in flooding, droughts, and wildfires. It is driving biodiversity loss at an unprecedented rate, with up to one million species currently at risk of extinction.
Conserving and restoring nature is fundamental to mitigating and adapting to climate change. Natural climate solutions help the Earth adapt, including by removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Canada’s boreal forest and muskeg is home to one of the Earth’s four largest carbon pools. The Government of Canada has made significant investments in nature and nature-based climate solutions to address climate change and biodiversity loss, including by setting an ambitious target to protect 25 percent of our lands and oceans by 2025, while working toward 30 percent by 2030. As a member of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People and the Global Ocean Alliance, Canada is leading the way to build support for a 30 percent target internationally.
Building on efforts to date to protect and conserve nature, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, today announced that the Government of Canada is investing $460 million over five years to protect and expand twenty-two of Canada’s national wildlife areas. This funding, as part of the Enhanced Nature Legacy, will also see the government create ten new national parks and four new freshwater marine conservation areas, while working to acquire the land needed to expand and complete existing national parks. Expanding conserved and protected natural areas is one of the most important actions that countries can take to curb the ongoing loss of biodiversity. Protected areas are key to protecting habitat for species at risk, and healthy ecosystems help nature and people adapt to climate change. Not only do these places conserve biodiversity, but they also protect ecosystem services, connect landscapes, store carbon, build knowledge and understanding, and inspire people.
Key to restoring our balance with nature is close collaboration and partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Indigenous Peoples have been stewards of the land, waters, and ice, and leaders in ecosystem conservation, since time immemorial. Canada is supporting Indigenous leadership in nature conservation with a previously announced $340 million in funding for new and existing Indigenous Guardians initiatives, such as the development of Indigenous Guardians networks, and Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs). These initiatives will build on the success of recent efforts, such as Thaidene Nëné in the Northwest Territories, and are essential to helping Canada reach its land protection targets.
In addition to protecting species and their habitat, protected and conserved areas act as a safeguard against additional releases of carbon that could derail Canada’s progress on climate change mitigation. There is no safe climate unless we protect the large, global biodiversity-rich carbon pools in the world’s great remaining forested areas: the Boreal, the Amazon, the Congo and South-east Asia. Canada remains committed to addressing climate change and recognizes that conserving and protecting nature is one of the best tools we have to mitigate its impacts.