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COVID-19 and Conservation

Planetary health has never been more important to human health. Learn what WCS Canada is doing to help. This page is regularly updated to reflect the changing situation.

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Environmental laws in Canada fall short of addressing the ongoing biodiversity crisis

Does Canada have what it takes to protect biodiversity? Our research suggests there is a lot of work to be done to close the gap between commitments and actions.  
 

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WCS Canada scientists get their boots muddy studying wildlife and wild places across Canada in hopes of spurring action to address our growing biodiversity crisis.

Unlocking Ontario’s fishy secret

The far north in Ontario is an aquatic haven. At least 50 species of fish can be found in this Arctic drainage basin. Connie O'Connor and Meg Southee explain how they identified key areas for freshwater diversity and why we should protect them.

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Digging deep on costs and benefits of mining in Yukon

The Yukon Government has embarked on a review of the rules around mining in the territory. WCS Canada weighed in on a comprehensive set of recommendations urging the government to create a framework that better acknowledges the significant ecological impacts of mining.

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Latest Publications

A guideline to frame stressor effects in freshwater ecosystems
Environmental policies fall short in protecting freshwater ecosystems, which are heavily threatened by human pressures and their associated stressors. One reason is that stressor effects depend on the context in which they occur and it is difficult to extrapolate patterns to predict the effect of stressors without these being contextualized in a general frame. This study aims at improving existing decision-making frameworks such as the DPSIR approach (Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response) or ERA (Environmental Risk Assessment) in the context of stressors. Here, we delve into stressor-impact relationships in freshwater ecosystems and develop a guideline which includes key characteristics such as stressor type, stressor duration, location, the natural levels of environmental variables to which each ecosystem is used to, among others. This guideline is intended to be useful in a wide range of ecosystem conditions and stressors. Incorporating these guidelines may favor the comparability of scientific results and may lead to a substantial advancement in the efficacy of diagnosis and predictive approaches of impacts.
The biodiversity crisis in Canada: failures and challenges of federal and sub-national strategic and legal frameworks
Negative biodiversity trends are evident in Canada, in spite of its ecological and economic wealth and high governance capacity. We examined the current implementation of Canada’s national biodiversity strategy—the planning instrument to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity—through its existing legal framework. We did this by evaluating biodiversity-related strategies and plans and 201 federal, provincial, and territorial laws. We found that while most jurisdictions claim dedicated attention to biodiversity, there is little evidence of an integrated approach within provinces and territories and across the federation. Biodiversity conservation led by governments underscores the need for considerations of species and ecosystem services to be mainstreamed into economic and development decision-making. Key challenges to this include Canada’s unusual degree of decentralized constitutionally ascribed authority over natural assets and its historical and continued economic emphasis on extraction of natural resources—a conflict of interest for jurisdictions. Transitioning to scale-appropriate planning and integrated decision-making that can address the pressures and causes of biodiversity conservation in Canada will require transformative change. Law reform, while necessary, will not succeed unless accompanied by a whole-of government approach, a shift to a bio-centric mindset, innovative governance (particularly Indigenous-led conservation), and federal leadership with strong levels of financial investment.
Ringed Seal Diet and Body Condition in the Amundsen Gulf region, Eastern Beaufort Sea
Diet from stomach contents and body condition from morphometric measurements were obtained for 169 (108 stomachs analysed) ringed seals (Pusa hispida) for the Amundsen Gulf region in the western Canadian Arctic from 2015 to 2018. Sampling was from subsistence-harvested seals from the three communities of Paulatuk (spring, summer, and autumn), Sachs Harbour (summer), and Ulukhaktok (winter), Northwest Territories. Stomach contents were separated through sieves and by hand, and taxa identified to the lowest taxonomic level possible and weighed. Stomachs were fullest (by weight and prey count) in the autumn, which suggests that foraging was most intense and successful at that time. A total of 93 prey taxa, including 17 fish and 76 invertebrate species were identified. Several fish and invertebrate species were regularly found together, the most common being Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida), sand lance (Ammodytes hexapterus), capelin (Mallotus villosus), and hyperiid amphipods (Themisto spp.). Condition measurements inferred from blubber thickness, although showing considerable variation among sites and years, had a seasonal relationship with maximal depth during the autumn and winter. Overall, the diet of ringed seals in Amundsen Gulf was broadly similar to those reported from other areas while also indicating some degree of regional specificity. When compared to the diet of ringed seals in the same area in the 1980s, the results presented here were more diverse, with new or increased numbers of subarctic species (e.g., saffron cod, Eleginus gracilis) found in the samples. This finding is a likely consequence of climate warming, as increasing numbers of subarctic species move north with warming ocean temperatures in the Arctic.

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WCS Canada newsletter

Latest policy comments

Joint Comment - Letter of Concern to the World Heritage Committee re Wood Buffalo National Park - 2021
26 Indigenous communities, environmental groups, civil society organizations and concerned scientists write to the WHC to express concern regarding the lack of adequate and timely conservation action to address the degradation of Outstanding Universal Values of the Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site. We agree with the analysis and conclusions provided by the WHC and IUCN to the Committee to consider at the 44th Session.
WCS Canada Comments - Critical Minerals Framework Discussion Paper - June 2021
WCS Canada provides comments on the Ontario Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines (MENDM) Critical Minerals Framework Discussion Paper (ERO No. 019‐3281).
WCS Canada Comments - McQuesten Project YESAB 2021-0017-0022 - May 2021
WCS Canada provides comments on the Banyan Gold Corp Quartz Exploration Project, focusing on impacts of additional access to the area, lack of mapping/inventory of wetlands and impacts on moose populations and moose habitat.

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Photo credits: Banner | Susan Morse © News | Mountain landscape: Susan Morse ©,  River: Maitland Conservation Authority ©, Caribou: Don Reid © WCS Canada, Peatlands: Mike Oldham, Mosaic | Northern Mountains: Hilary Cooke © WCS Canada, Wolverine: Susan Morse ©. Brook Trout: Engbretson Underwater Photography ©, Bat: Cory Olson ©, Wild Places: Hilary Cooke © WCS Canada, Ontario River: Constance O'Connor © WCS Canada, Caribou: Susan Morse ©,  Boat on North French river: Meg Southee © WCS Canada, Yukon mining: Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle © WCS Canada. 

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