We all depend on nature for our livelihood. Ecosystems have strong cultural and esthetical values, supply us with food, fresh air, clean water, energy, and so many more of the things we rely on to live healthy and prosperous lives.
The ability of our natural world to sustain ecological processes and all forms of living organisms, including humans, is jeopardized by climate change. It leads to modifications in many physio-chemical, ecological and social parameters characterizing ecosystems and habitats in a given location. Rapid habitat modifications led by climate changes overwhelm the ability of many species to respond by adaption or migration. Species with narrow ecological requirements or climate tolerance, threatened species with small and localized populations, and species with limited migration capacity may be the most affected and may disappear.
Rising temperatures due to climate change is one of the biggest stressors on natural habitats and biological communities. Along with additional man-made factors such as deforestation, overexploitation, and unrestrained development, rising temperatures are threatening the existence of some of the world’s most important ecosystems, such as the coral reefs or the arctic ecosystems found here in Canada. These are particularly sensitive to an increase of temperature, and may disappear entirely if commitments from all nations are not made.
In Canada, climate change impacts on biodiversity extend beyond the Arctic which are most commonly discussed. They also include loss and damage of coastal ecosystems, some of the most valuable carbon sinks we have as a country, and wetlands an invaluable ecosystem both for biodiversity and the natural filtration of chemicals that it provides for water and plant life.
Taking Action in Canada
Biodiversity protection is certainly a key step for climate change resilience and adaptation. The federal government has made commitments to protect the country’s biodiversity, committing to conserving 30 per cent of Canada’s land and oceans by 2030. In November 2021, the government committed $460 million over five years for the protection and expansion of 22 of the country’s national wildlife areas as one of the measures to help reach its 2030 goal. This is coupled with the government’s support of “…Indigenous leadership in nature conservation with a previously announced $340 million in funding for new and existing Indigenous Guardians initiatives, such as the development of Indigenous Guardians networks, and Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs).”
Biodiversity and climate are inexplicably linked. The actions taken, or not taken, to protect one has a definitive impact on the other. We need biodiversity mainstreaming in policies, regulations, plans, programs, etc. for all levels of government and organization, and we need the integration of the nature value in decision-making across all sectors. Doing so will allow us to protect and restore our biodiversity, and minimize the impacts of climate change.
WSP is engaged in various levels of biodiversity protection, including environmental and social governance of lenders and companies, nature-based solutions reducing impacts on biodiversity at sources, biodiversity impacts avoidance, reduction and compensation/offset at the project planning phase. We also provide various services aligned with biodiversity conservation, including management plans and monitoring for threatened species, habitat restauration and creation targeting the most sensitive habitats and species as well as area-based conservation efforts.