In keeping with our scientific approach to conservation, we are leading the process of identifying Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) across Canada, while serving as the secretariat for the National KBA Coalition. The KBA process was developed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Taskforce for Biodiversity and Protected Areas as a way for countries to identify sites that are important for the persistence of biodiversity. Sites can be designated under one of five criteria: threatened biodiversity; geographically restricted biodiversity; ecological integrity; biological processes; and irreplaceability.
KBA designation provides a means of highlighting the importance of an area, but does not provide any protections in and of itself. But highlighting these areas should spur federal and provincial and Indigenous governments and companies to take steps to protect the values that have led to their designation as KBAs. The KBA process is also an important tool for identifying areas with high ecological value that are vital for sustaining biodiversity. This can, for example, help us shift the focus of our protected areas planning in Canada away from areas with low or limited biodiversity to more productive and ecologically important areas that will contribute more to protecting biodiversity across larger landscapes.
The task of assessing potential KBAs fits well with WCS Canada’s focus on on-the-ground conservation research. We have assessed the natural importance of many areas, from the broader Nahanni region to the Hudson Bay Lowlands. We see KBAs as a valuable scientific tool for identifying sites that need protection and a way to help us maintain the undisturbed character and exceptional values of intact wild areas. We are also excited about the collaborative nature of the KBA process and will be using our experience and skills in working with a wide range of partners and Indigenous governments to advance KBA identification as we lead the Canadian KBA Coalition and link with the global KBA Partnership.