Northern Spotted Owl, mayoung01 / iNaturalist
Northern Spotted Owl © mayoung01 / iNaturalist

Why we all need a new plan for nature


Daniel Kraus
Director of National Conservation





The next decade is our last best chance to save biodiversity.

Humans have been causing the loss of wildlife for about as long as there have been humans. From the extinctions of mega-fauna in North America and Australia as people colonized the Earth, to the imminent loss of Spotted Owls in Canada, the cumulative impacts of humanity have resulted in an impoverished natural world.

There have been benefits to the whole scale industrial exploitation of nature. Setting our sights on unbridled economic development has created access to things like vaccines and information and has generated wealth that has helped to improve the human condition for many. We have proven an ingenuity and imagination that no other animal brain has accomplished.

But we are now at a tipping point. The very pillars of ecology that support humanity are weakening as we chip away at the foundation of a healthy environment. Climate instability to the loss of prairie grasslands to wild west proposals to develop the intact forests and peatlands in Canada’s north all threatened not just nature, but our ability to promise the next generation a better future.

We’ve reached a point on this planet and at this time when the exploitation of nature will never benefit as many people as the conservation of nature.

Many groups and cultures have recognized the importance of protecting nature for a long time. It’s my immigrant grandmother telling me I shouldn’t waste water. It’s the efforts of the Wildlife Conservation Society over a century ago to stop the extinction of the Plains Bison. And it’s an inherent part of many Indigenous world views.

Our conservation challenge is not about lack of knowledge, but our ability to act in a modern world. While public support for nature is very high, and more corporations are integrating sustainability onto business, it hasn’t been enough to mainstream conservation. The good news is we are wired to respond to emergencies, and these are urgent times for life on Earth.

The next decade is our last best chance to save biodiversity. But to do so, we need a new plan for nature.

Over the past few months countries around the world have been working on their new plans for nature. The Global Biodiversity Framework is an international agreement that Canada along with almost 200 other countries signed in Montreal last year. It includes goals and targets that are all designed to halt and reverse the loss of nature in our lifetime. This is exciting stuff. Every person alive today has only lived on a planet that is bleeding biodiversity. The next decade is our opportunity to halt and reverse this loss. No future generation will regret our success.

The content and courage in Canada’s new national biodiversity strategy will set the tone for what we value and set a vision of what we all want the world to be. Our new plan for nature can’t be a bureaucratic brief and it can’t just be a government responsibility. Governments need a new plan for nature, but so do businesses, communities, and families. Degradation of nature is a shared risk for society. Restoration of nature is a shared responsibility and an opportunity for all of us to better life on Earth.

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