Protecting more nature from urban development and destructive industries such as mining and logging is essential to safeguard our future in the face of the global climate crisis and accelerating biodiversity loss.
In 2020 Canada committed to working with First Nations to expand protected places by 30 percent by 2030. In Ontario, only 11 per cent of lands and waters are currently protected, with no clear plan for growth. Our conservation vision includes targets to grow the network of protected places in the province in line with federal commitments with a plan that prioritizes leadership from Indigenous communities.
We work to identify and pursue protection for key natural hotspots including wetlands, wildlife habitat, rare old-growth forests and intact boreal landscapes.
What’s at stake for Ontario nature
The province is home to multiple ecosystems in need of protection — from the mighty boreal and peatlands in the north to the mixed forests of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence plains and the incredibly diverse Carolinian forests and grasslands of the southwest. Three primary watersheds in this province house more than a quarter of all wetlands in Canada and one-fifth of all the world’s freshwater. These ecosystems provide life-sustaining services including wildlife habitat, air and water filtration and climate regulation.
And of course, nature provides valuable opportunities for recreation, psychological, spiritual, health and social benefits for people. Healthy ecosystems are essential for Indigenous communities to practice traditional culture and treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather medicine, and vice versa. Indigenous knowledge related to responsibly caring for the land is crucial to maintaining healthy ecosystems.
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I sat on a shore in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park a year before the pandemic, marvelling as my son soloed the canoe beneath the burning glow of the setting sun. Watching kids grow is powerful and poignant. It’s a privilege that I can offer my son the chance of growing up in intact nature, one afforded me in part because of the provincial parks set aside by past generations.