Protecting Biodiversity

The impacts of the continued loss of biodiversity and climate change on our livelihoods and communities are already visible.

Ontario’s biodiversity matters because healthy, diverse ecosystems sustain healthy communities and economies, and help us mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Biodiversity is… the variety of life on earth, and is essential to sustaining the living systems we depend on for our health, economy, food and other vital services.

All species, including humans, rely on each other to survive. Humans depend, directly and indirectly, on biodiversity for clean air and water, food and fibre, and amazing outdoor experiences like hiking, fishing, and canoeing.

snapping turtle image courtesy Andy Metelka

For two decades, FOCA has been a member of the Ontario Biodiversity Council (OBC). This group of environmental, conservation, government, academic and indigenous organizations, natural history institutions, and industry work together to support biodiversity conservation in Ontario. The OBC regularly holds a Biodiversity Summit, produces the “State of Ontario’s Biodiversity” Report every 5 years, and led to the development of the Ontario Biodiversity Strategy.

December 2023 – check out the latest Wildlife Conservation Society of Canada evaluation on the current state of biodiversity laws, policies & plans – and why they matter. Visit the website here.

Private landowners have significant influence on thousands of hectares of sensitive shorelands in Ontario – we all need to do our part. Learn how: Shoreline Owner’s Guide to Healthy Waterfronts.  

January 2022 – a report has been issued with “Key Takeaways and Priority Actions” following the 2021 Ontario Biodiversity Summit (held virtually from May to October 2021). A main message: “healthy ecosystems sustain healthy people and a healthy economy.” Read the report (download PDF, 13 pages)

 

As part of the mandate of this group, every five years we produce a State of Ontario Biodiversity Report (SOBR)Read the latest SOBR report (download PDF, 18 pages).

Ontario’s Biodiversity Strategy guides conservation efforts across the province using four strategic directions that highlight the work we must do: Engage People, Reduce Threats, Enhance Resilience, and Improve Knowledge. Each of the strategic directions is supported by long term objectives, outcomes, actions, and targets. The indicators that are used to measure our “State of” are explained in detail and a useful background for understanding what is important and how we’re doing.

The latest biodiversity indicators show that there have been mixed results on progress towards achieving Ontario’s biodiversity targets.

Please note: the following is archival material, and some links to third-party resources may no longer be active.

July 15, 2021 – Restoring Aquatic Biodiversity: Audio recording featuring FOCA’s Executive Director (Aquatic stewardship session begins at 4:04). The natural aquatic biodiversity in Ontario, with 250,000 lakes alone, is a remarkable endowment. This full-day session, part of the Ontario Biodiversity Summit, consisted of 4 panels that evaluated the experience of sustaining natural aquatic infrastructure and restoring damaged ecological functions. Read more at 2021 Ontario Biodiversity Summit.

May 18, 2021 – How many people care about biodiversity and nature loss? Hundreds of millions and counting (Global Landscapes Forum)

January 25, 2021 – ‘Four Steps for Earth’ to Protect Biodiversity’ (EcoWatch)
The 4Rs are:

  • Refrain: Avoiding negative impacts on nature
  • Reduce: Minimizing the harm caused by any unavoidable impacts
  • Restore: Acting to quickly counteract any harm caused to nature
  • Renew: Working to improve damaged ecosystems.

September 15, 2020 – Today the UN Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity released Global Biodiversity Outlook 5. An excerpt: “Humanity stands at a crossroads with regard to the legacy it leaves to future generations; biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate. None of the (2010) Aichi Biodiversity Targets will be fully met, in turn threatening the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and undermining efforts to address climate change. Solutions need to simultaneously address the conservation of the planet’s genetic diversity, species and ecosystems, the capacity of nature to deliver material benefits to human societies, and the less tangible but highly-valued connections with nature that help to define our identities, cultures and beliefs.” Read more on the 2020 UN report from the New York Times, and the Guardian.

August 31, 2020 – Involve local groups in protecting biodiversity, conservationists urge. (The Guardian) The “Edinburgh declaration”, urges leaders to work more closely with wider society. 

June 21, 2019 – The revised Federal Fisheries Act (Bill C-68) gives the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) increased oversight of development activities and the management of fish and fish habitat. It restores prohibitions against the harmful alteration, disruption, and destruction of fish habitat, and should allow for better protection for biodiversity. The Act also has tools to repair past harm to habitat and helps depleted fish populations recover from impacts such as climate change, loss of habitat or other environmental conditions. Over the next year, there will be much work to do to rebuild the regulations under the new Act, set up the proposed public registry and more.  For more information, visit the DFO Fisheries Act web pages.

May 2019 – Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’. “Biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people are our common heritage and humanity’s most important life-supporting ‘safety net’. But our safety net is stretched almost to breaking point.” Co-Chair of the Assessment Prof. Sandra Díaz (Argentina), says: “The diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems, as well as many fundamental contributions we derive from nature, are declining fast, although we still have the means to ensure a sustainable future for people and the planet.” The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an independent intergovernmental body, established by member States in 2012. The objective of IPBES is to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development.

April 2018 – Federal government not doing enough to manage risk of fish farms, environmental watchdog says. Canada also not on track to meet 2020 biodiversity targets, commissioner says in spring report. (CBC News)

April 2017 – Why you should put Ontario first while planting your garden (article by by thestar.com)

In 2016, countries around the world committed to Sustainable Development Goals (PDF, 24 pages), a universal set of 17 goals, with related targets and indicators, that United Nations member states will be expected to use to frame their agendas and political policies from now until 2030.  

Acting on Climate Change: Solutions from Canadian Scholars (Input from Sustainable Canada Dialogues’ Scholars )

June 2015 – VIDEO: What future is there for global biodiversity? (Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency)

 

August 2015 – The Ontario Biodiversity Council has released their 2015 “State of Ontario’s Biodiversity” Report. Find out how Ontario has been progressing on 45 indicators towards its biodiversity targets since the 2010 Report. Click here to download the PDF (12 pages)

May 2015 – FOCA participated in the 2015 Ontario Biodiversity Summit:  

On May 21, 2015 FOCA’s Executive Director Terry Rees moderated a discussion at the Summit: “Stewardship Works – How landowners, businesses and agencies collaborate for biodiversity.” Read a summary of the event (PDF, 2 pages).

Titled, “Protecting What Sustains Us,” the 2015 Biodiversity Summit in Niagara Falls was a chance to learn more about the state of biodiversity in our province and what we are doing to protect it, to hear from engaging and informative speakers, learn about best practices from around the world, and share ideas to help focus future conservation efforts. The diverse program focused on conserving biodiversity, promoting sustainable use of natural assets and mainstreaming biodiversity in society.

An exciting part of the Summit’s “Mainstreaming Biodiversity” theme was getting our youth involved. Forty young adults from across Ontario participated in “Young Leaders for Biodiversity” – providing valuable inspiration for these future leaders, and many useful insights for building a stronger community of caring for our natural spaces and species.