Below are some of the key international initiatives WCS Canada is involved with.
Convention on Biological Diversity
The Convention recognizes the need for countries to work together to protect the Earth’s biodiversity and the services we receive from biological systems. It currently has 196 Parties, which have agreed to work to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. These targets set out ambitious milestones, including halving forest loss and ending wild species being driven into extinction by human activities by 2020.
Canada’s Pathway to Target 1 initiative is an example of how our federal government is responding to these objectives, both in terms of meeting protected area targets and ensuring these areas better reflect the need to protect biodiversity. However, progress on achieving the Aichi Targets in Canada has lagged many other countries and, therefore, we are working hard to make the scientific case for the importance (and urgency) of the federal and provincial governments taking meaningful action on these commitments.
We are also working with our international WCS colleagues to generate the scientific evidence needed to support rigorous, ambitious and effective new targets to be adopted by the global community for the decade following 2020. WCS Canada is focused particularly on the identification of intact ecosystems and documenting how these are being imperiled to make a case for leadership by Canada on developing measures to protect such areas worldwide .
Key Biodiversity Areas
Identification of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) is another way we can act to protect biodiversity around the world. KBAs are an important new international conservation tool being jointly developed by non-profit groups, scientists and governments around the world. WCS Canada is using its field science expertise to both lead the development of international KBA standards and to inform KBA identification efforts in Canada. As part of this work, WCS Canada is leading the National Coordination Group, which brings together experts and stakeholders to advance KBA identification across Canada. KBAs by themselves do not protect areas, but are a valuable stepping stone toward conserving areas that are highly threatened or rich in biodiversity.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES
) is one of the key tools we can use to address wildlife trafficking and poaching worldwide. Canada is a Party (member government) to the CITES treaty, which regulates international trade in protected species. WCS has been deeply involved
in the issue of stopping the illegal wildlife trade, including for elephants, tigers, pangolins, parrots, turtles, and parrots, along with many other species. We also work to protect and increase habitat for species endangered by wildlife trafficking. Thanks to the extensive WCS global network, we are able to keep the Canadian government informed on wildlife trade and poaching issues worldwide and involve Canadians in helping to stop highly destructive practices, such as sales of elephant ivory or other products made from endangered species.
We work closely with our WCS international colleagues in the Arctic Beringia and Western Rocky Mountains programs to research and address multiple transboundary issues, such as climate change and connectivity. Similarly, we have been involved in cross-border efforts to restore bison, a key – but often missing – driver of grassland ecosystems. We also share scientific findings and policy ideas through many international conservation organizations, from the North American Congress for Conservation Biology to the Arctic Council.
As scientists, we often publish papers in peer reviewed journals to share our fieldwork findings and believe strongly in open science.
WCS international programs
WCS Canada also directly supports some key international conservation programs that are part of WCS’s global wildlife protection efforts. In fact, WCS staff work collaboratively across programs and geographies to address transboundary environmental challenges, including through intergovernmental initiatives and forums.
The tiger is endangered worldwide and in many countries entire local populations have gone extinct. As ever-growing expanses of Asia are carved up for roads, farms, logging interests, and urban development, tigers are losing their natural habitats. WCS has long-standing conservation programs in nine countries where tigers live. Our goal is to help save the populations of this big cat in the wild and improve their living conditions.
Nearly half of the world’s freshwater turtle species are at risk of extinction. Habitat loss and the illegal wildlife trade continue to threaten species that are already struggling for survival. Our international turtle conservation program aims to restore imperiled populations by conducting surveys of turtle habitat, advocating for the reduction of the turtle trade, and by restoring wild populations through captive breeding and release.
Coral reefs are some the oldest and most diverse ecosystems on earth, hosting an incredible array of fish, invertebrates, and marine mammals as well as some of the most important primary producers on the planet – those organisms that provide nutrients at the beginning of the food chain. They also have substantial economic and cultural value. Yet today, they're in danger because of climate change, destructive fishing practices, and ocean acidification. WCS is heading a global collaboration to strengthen coral reef fisheries management and evaluate the impact of conservation investments around the world to study these sensitive areas.