(MONTREAL, December 6, 2022) — The numbers are stark: up to one million species at risk of extinction worldwide, natural ecosystems that have lost half their global area, the biomass of wild animals plunging by 82 per cent, all according to the landmark report released by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in 2019.
Canada, despite its vast wild spaces, is far from immune from this biodiversity crisis. Our national list of species at risk has doubled since it was first created in 2002 and few listed species are on the road to recovery. A newly released report on the status of wild species in Canada has identified thousands of species that could disappear under the status quo. In our southern most populated regions, wetlands and woodlands have been reduced to small fragments, while resource development continues to spread deeper and deeper into more northern regions threatening to impact some of the planet’s largest and most intact forests and peatlands.
WCS Canada is a leader in developing science-based responses to this crisis, from the identification of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) to providing technical support to land use planning and species recovery. Our scientists are actively working on ways to protect vulnerable wolverines and lake sturgeon, save bats from a deadly disease, and to reduce the impact of growing ship noise on Arctic marine mammals.
Our research takes place on Indigenous lands and waters. We are committed to reconciliation through research and conservation of wildlife, lands, and waters with Indigenous Peoples, and recognize and support that Indigenous-led conservation is one of the most effective tools in the fight against biodiversity loss and climate change.
Canada has a critically important role to play in addressing the global biodiversity crisis because of its huge land mass, tens of thousands of lakes and rivers, the world’s longest ocean coastline, provides breeding habitat for billions of migratory birds, and jurisdiction over parts of three oceans. But, the fact that this country still has globally important intact wild areas is really a result of Indigenous stewardship, and the sheer size rather of the land on which we live, rather than forward-looking planning from our governments as we continue to develop through the scarce remaining spaces remaining for nature
WCS scientists are increasingly seeing the impacts of a changing climate on wildlife and wild spaces across Canada and we are working hard to ensure that climate solutions and our transition to a green economy are developed with the least possible impact on wild areas that are critically important for carbon storage and sequestration. A number of WCS scientists are available to comment on what needs to be achieved at the COP and how Canada can respond to the biodiversity crisis that they see accelerating here:
Dr. Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne, Key Biodiversity Areas Director, 514.966.6047, email@example.com, WCS Canada’s Director of Key Biodiversity Areas is based in Montreal, and is bilingual in English and French. She leads a national initiative to identify sites that are crucial to the retention and recovery of biodiversity. Her previous research and consulting work focused on ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation, and social-ecological resilience, across Canada, in Latin America, Sweden, Southern Africa and Southeast Asia. Ciara served as the coordinator of the Sub-global Assessment Working Group of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.
Dr. Lorna Harris, Forests, Peatlands, and Climate Change Lead, 514.577.3390, firstname.lastname@example.org, Lorna is an ecosystem scientist with an interdisciplinary skill set, working from the local to global scale to assess the ways ecosystem structure and function may be impacted by global climate warming and other disturbances. As a dedicated research scientist with an industry and policy background, she has worked to improve our scientific understanding of wetlands and peatland ecosystems for over 17 years in both the UK and Canada. Dr. Harris has extensive research experience in a range of wetland, peatland, and forest ecosystems across Canada, including the Hudson Bay Lowland where she completed her PhD research. She has published several papers on peatland carbon cycling and greenhouse gas fluxes. Lorna has also worked to create stronger links in science and public policy for peatlands in both the UK and in Canada, with a recent paper identifying research and policy gaps for peatlands across Canada.
Dan Kraus, National Director of Conservation, 647.299.2425, email@example.com. Dan Kraus has over 25 years of conservation experience in the public, private and NGO sectors and is an expert on Canadian biodiversity and conservation. Dan has authored reports on topics ranging from Canada’s ‘crisis’ ecoregions to the natural capital value of forests. Dan is a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission and Canada’s Nature Advisory Committee. He leads WCS Canada efforts to report on biodiversity and conservation in Canada through WCS Canada’s new SHAPE of Nature website.
WCS Canada President Dr. Justina Ray will be part of the official Canadian delegation at COP 15, where she will be contributing to Canada’s leadership in developing ambitious new goals and targets for the Convention on Biodiversity.
Check out the Wildlife Conservation Society News Statement from the opening of the COP.
Lynsey Grosfield, Conservation Communications Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org, (647) 372-0309
About Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Canada
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Canada’s mission is to save wildlife and wild places through science, conservation action, education, and by inspiring people to value nature. WCS Canada plays a unique role in the conservation landscape of Canada. We work at the nexus of biodiversity, climate change, and health in priority landscapes where we have had a long-term field presence, and where there is great potential for durable conservation gains. We have strategic national programs to complement and expand our geographically focused work that addresses issues of Canadian and global concern such as Key Biodiversity Areas, climate change, and mentoring the next generation of conservation scientists. WCS Canada is a member of the global Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) working across the globe in more than 60 countries to save wildlife and wild places.
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The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal has shared public domain images and b-roll of the event:
Photo credits: Banner | William Halliday © WCS Canada