Federal Environment Commissioner’s Fall Report paints grim picture of state of biodiversity in Canada

Environmental conservation in Canada has reached a new low, according to a report from the office of the federal Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development released yesterday.

Citing “deteriorating biodiversity conditions in all of the main types of ecosystems in Canada,” Interim Environment Commissioner Neil Maxwell called on federal departments to seek  “ground-breaking” new approaches to “break the pattern of unfulfilled commitments and responsibilities.”

Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands expressed gratitude for the Commissioner’s diligent research, stating that “The deep cuts to Parks Canada are clearly causing serious problems in maintaining ecological integrity in parks, while across the federal government there is a disturbing failure to fulfill statutory responsibilities for species at risk.”

The Green Party Leader also emphasized the need to implement and provide funding for more stringent environmental monitoring standards, while echoing the Commissioner’s call for a more collaborative and integrated approach to supporting biodiversity, one that would take into account all aspects of an ecosystem.

The report, which examined the work of Environment Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and Parks Canada in protecting Canada’s natural environment, found that over 70% of national wildlife areas had “less than adequate ecological integrity”, and that over 90% “did not have adequate management plans.”

“The threats to bird populations are alarming,” remarked Andrew Park, Environment Critic for the Green Party of Canada, “We are losing the scientific capacity to monitor species as their numbers plummet.” The report states that according to Environment Canada’s own estimates, fewer than half of the Bird Conservation Region Strategies it committed to completing by 2010 had been finished, and “that monitoring for 30 percent of the bird species in Canada is insufficient to determine whether they are at risk.”