Dragonfly TR

Biodiversity in Ontario

Biodiversity is about being connected. 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. Conserving Ontario’s biodiversity is important because healthy ecosystems sustain healthy communities and healthy economies. Biodiversity also helps us better mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

For over 15 years, 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.

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.

Other News:

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 four panels that evaluated the experience of sustaining natural aquatic infrastructure and restoring damaged ecological functions. Learn 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.

“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”

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
None of the 20 biodiversity goals set out in the Aichi accord signed in 2010 have been met by the target of 2020, leaving our biodiversity in a perilous state.  The “Edinburgh declaration”, urges leaders to work more closely with wider society. (The Guardian)

The impacts of the continued loss of biodiversity and climate change on our livelihoods and communities are already visible. Private landowners have significant influence on thousands of hectares of sensitive shorelands in Ontario – we all need to do our part.  


FOCA looks forward to MNRF’s ongoing oversight and response to FOCA’s previous comments on cormorant management, including: the MNRF’s communications around hunter and waterfront community safety; their (provincial and regional) population management targets, and a plan to adequately monitor the effectiveness of this new hunt and any related impacts on the ecosystem.

Also missing to date is what other non-lethal management and deterrents are being considered to address local population concerns.

Related media coverage:

September 18, 2020 – Local hunter defends controversial cormorant hunt (CBC)

September 2, 2020 – Cormorant hunt lacks scientific basis, 51 experts say in open letter to Ontario minister (CBC) See the letter.

July 31, 2020 – New cormorant hunt in Ontario. To address concerns from property owners, hunters and anglers, the Province has announced a new fall hunting season for double-crested cormorants. The idea is to help manage cormorant populations where they have negatively impacted local environments. Hunters will be allowed to shoot the birds from stationary motorboats, from September 15 to December 31. Hunting is subject to the small game requirements.

August 13, 2020 – In Ontario, it’s open season on cormorants. But is the hunt based on science? (National Observer)

August 6, 2020 – Ontario’s cormorant hunt: setting the record straight  (Ontario Nature)

August 2020 – Georgian Bay Association commentary on the new cormorant hunt 

August 3, 2020 – Conservation groups raise concerns about Ontario hunt of cormorants this fall (CBC)

March 15, 2019 – Government scientists warn about safety, impacts of proposed cormorant hunt (CBC)

Earlier News:

May 6, 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 24, 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)

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

The future of global biodiversity?  (VIDEO – Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency)

SOBR 2015

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)

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.

Ontario Biodiversity Summit (May 19-22, 2015)

Terry at OBS 2015On 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 the event notice from March 2015:

Ontario Biodiversity Summit poster 2015Titled, “Protecting What Sustains Us,” the 2015 Biodiversity Summit in Niagara Falls is a chance to learn more about the state of biodiversity in our province and what we are doing to protect it. 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 will focus on conserving biodiversity, promoting sustainable use of natural assets and mainstreaming biodiversity in society. See the full program, here…

About the Ontario Biodiversity Council

FOCA has been a member of the Ontario Biodiversity Council since 2008.

In addition to hosting this Summit, the Ontario Biodiversity Council regularly produces the State of Ontario’s Biodiversity report, and led the development of the Ontario Biodiversity Strategy. The Council is made up of members from a variety of organizations including conservation and environmental groups, academia, Aboriginal organizations, government, industry associations.

“We encourage everyone to become engaged in both appreciating and conserving biodiversity. Every one of us has a role to play in reducing pressures on nature. We invite you to join our efforts to protect what sustains us.”

Engage People. Reduce Threats. Enhance Resilience. Improve Knowledge.

Ontario Biodiversity Council header 2015



Michelle LewinBiodiversity in Ontario