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Environment Committee presents unanimous report pressing for more protected areas

MP Wayne Stetski and fellow MP's.
— Photo courtesy Office of Wayne Stetski, MP

Ottawa, March 24, 2017—The House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development today presented a unanimous report calling on the federal government to lead an effort to rapidly establish more terrestrial and marine protected areas to safeguard biodiversity and Canada’s natural heritage.

Entitled “Taking Action Today: Establishing Protected Areas for Canada’s Future,” the report is centred on an international commitment Canada made in 2010 – known as “Aichi Target 11” – under the Convention on Biological Diversity to protect 17% of terrestrial and inland water and 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020.

“Canada has protected 11% of its terrestrial areas and 1% of its marine areas,” noted Committee Chair, Deb Schulte. “Clearly there is a great deal of work to be done in a short period of time. In fact, we need to exceed these targets as they are only interim milestones towards protecting larger areas necessary to conserve biodiversity.”

The Committee made 36 recommendations to the federal government, including to lead the coordination and planning of a national network of protected areas; accelerate, coordinate and fund the establishment of all types of federal protected areas; partner with Indigenous peoples in establishing protected areas; and ensure sufficient protection for federal protected areas.

“Canada’s vast and varied land and seascapes and its biodiversity provide essential ecosystem services and are iconic for Canadians and the world,” continued the Chair. “But they face immediate and increasing threats, including from climate change, conversion for agriculture, urban encroachment and invasive species. Governments urgently need to act to protect as much of Canada as necessary to conserve biodiversity and promote the conservation economy for the benefit of future generations.”

Chaired by Deb Schulte, M.P., during the study the Committee comprised: Liberals John Aldag, William Amos, Mike Bossio, Darren Fisher and Mark Gerretsen; Conservatives Jim Eglinski (Vice-Chair), Ed Fast, Joël Godin, and Martin Shields; and from the New Democratic Party, Wayne Stetski.

A copy of the report may be obtained from the Committee’s website.

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