, WCS Canada
© WCS Canada

SHAPE of Nature

An accessible and comprehensive clearinghouse that shares the status and trends of biodiversity conservation across Canada.

What is the SHAPE of Nature?

The SHAPE (Species, Habitats, Actions & Policies Evaluations) of Nature provides an accessible and comprehensive clearinghouse of information on nature and nature conservation across Canada. It shares research from Wildlife Conservation Society Canada, other scientists, and our partners.  Each ‘SHAPE’ provides a summary of a key biodiversity conservation theme for Canada. Current SHAPEs include globally threatened ecosystems, nationally endemic species, and biodiversity laws, policies, and plans. SHAPEs starts with key messages written for a general audience and infographics, followed by suggested actions that are directed at different groups (e.g., local governments, corporations, individuals). More technical information on methods and data is included at the end of the document, providing scientific credibility but without obscuring the key messages and actions.

Why SHAPE?

"We can’t manage what we can’t measure."

One of the key challenges of nature conservation in Canada is understanding and reporting on our progress. While our economy is tracked with daily indexes, measures, and forecasts we don’t have an effective system for monitoring and communicating the state of nature. Our current nature reporting systems are scattered in different locations, incomplete, lacking credibility, or desperately needing interpretation for the public and decision-makers. As a result, the public is left with a poor understanding of the status and trends of nature, and decision-makers that lack evidence to advocate and advance policies and actions to conserve biodiversity. Building our collective capacity for nature reporting is essential to increase public awareness and interest in conservation and to provide regular measures to inform management decisions and actions. While Canada has many federal, provincial, and territorial laws, policies, and plans to conserve nature, including Canada’s upcoming 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, reporting on the status and trends of nature, our conservation progress, and forecasting has been lacking. Perhaps most importantly, knowledge has not been mobilized in a way that informs and moves people to action.

Canada needs independent evalautions and reporting on the status and trends of nature that can be easily understood and trusted by the public and decision-makers.

Help SHAPE our Vision of Conservation

We hope SHAPE will provide accessible information on biodiversity and conservation in Canada and inspire Canadians with actions everyone can take to halt and reverse the loss of nature. SHAPE includes many important facts and findings about nature in Canada and why conservation here at home matters for the world. Perhaps most importantly, knowing more about nature can inspire us all to take action to conserve Canada’s wildlife and wild places.

Our goals include increasing the number, frequency, and depth of SHAPEs supported by strategic knowledge mobilization through the following actions:

  • Triple the number of SHAPEs we create and curate to over 30. In addition to the current content, we will create new SHAPEs that provide critical information to inform decision-making and influence public opinion. These new SHAPEs will include: wildlife extinctions and recovery, wetland policies, invasive species, and habitat loss.
  • Develop and publish a new ‘Nature Conservation Performance Index’ for federal, provincial, and territorial governments. This index would be an amalgamation of SHAPEs such as protected areas, biodiversity policies, wildlife extinctions, supplemented with other data, to provide the status, trends, and forecast for biodiversity across Canada.
  • Expand on our successful ‘State of’ reporting. Building on the success of our State of Trees SHAPE, we will create 5-10 new SHAPEs that report on the status and trends of different species groups and habitats in Canada. While all SHAPEs have the objective to engage the public, this series of SHAPEs is particularly well positioned for media.
  • Maintain and update our SHAPE website. The current platform can be used as the foundation as we expand content and functionality to ensure information is both engaging and easily accessible.
  • Expand knowledge mobilization. Every SHAPE is also an interesting story about nature and people in Canada. We will develop an engagement package for each SHAPE and increase our use of infographics to share these stories in a way that connects with target audiences and amplify key messages through more press releases, social media and presentations to public and scientific audiences.

WCS Canada is uniquely positioned to deliver on SHAPE. We work at the science-policy interface and are conservation collaborators with biodiversity experts and knowledge-holders across Canada. Our science to solutions approach to conservation will be embedded in every SHAPE by providing timely and credible information, in combination with actions needed lead us to better outcomes for nature and people.

Stories and op-eds

What the State of Whales tells us about conservation in Canada
2024-04-04

What the State of Whales tells us about conservation in Canada

Over half of Canada’s 40 whale species remain at some level of extinction risk.
Daniel Kraus, William Halliday, Stephen Insley
What we all lose as more of Canada’s wildlife disappears
2024-01-24

What we all lose as more of Canada’s wildlife disappears

Canada officially has less biodiversity than one year ago.
Daniel Kraus
We can be the generation that holds on tight to our natural wealth
2024-01-05

We can be the generation that holds on tight to our natural wealth

Looking back over the past few years in biodiversity, there is one measure that stands out: the decline and extinction of wild species.
Daniel Kraus

Press releases

New report shows Canada’s trees in growing trouble
2023-03-26

New report shows Canada’s trees in growing trouble

Almost one-quarter of tree species now at risk