Budget 2021: The right commitment to nature and biodiversity — at the right time
Toronto, April 19, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Canadian government has set a clear trajectory for the recovery of nature in Canada with a $4.1-billion budget commitment over five years. This investment includes targets of conserving over one million square kilometers of freshwater and land by 2025 and increasing marine protected areas. World Wildlife Fund Canada applauds this significant and crucial investment in nature.
Protected areas, including Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas, have the potential to create space for Canada’s at-risk species to thrive and recover, as well as recognize and reinforce the rights of Indigenous people to steward their lands and waters, and absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere through protected vegetation and soils. However, not all protected areas are created with these criteria in mind. WWF-Canada’s 2019 Wildlife Protection Assessment found that existing terrestrial protected areas were not doing an adequate job of protecting habitat for species at risk, or habitats with high densities of soil carbon or forest biomass.
With populations of species at risk of extinction continuing to decline in Canada, urgent actions are needed. WWF-Canada looks forward to working with the federal government as they strive to achieve their High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People commitment to protect 30 per cent of land and waters by 2030.
Megan Leslie, president and CEO of WWF-Canada, said:
“Nature has been a bright spot in a dark year, and we’re encouraged that the government understands the need for investment. Their commitments to biodiversity have been considerable, and with this budget they are providing the means to achieve them. This funding has the potential to protect habitats for species at risk of extinction, sequester and store carbon, and support Indigenous Guardian programs to steward their traditional territories. If implemented with species, climate and people in mind, I’m hopeful this budget will put us on the road to recovery.”
The federal 2021 budget contains important commitments not only to freshwater and land protection, but also to natural infrastructure, marine protection, Pacific salmon conservation (which would also benefit the Salish Sea’s Endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales), ghost gear retrieval (to prevent entanglements that threaten marine mammals and sea turtles), and the Canada Water Agency (which could be used to help close the data gaps identified in WWF-Canada’s Watershed Reports and keep Canadian waters safe, clean and well-managed).
About World Wildlife Fund Canada
WWF-Canada creates solutions to the environmental challenges that matter most for Canadians. We work in places that are unique and ecologically important, so that nature, wildlife and people thrive together. Because we are all wildlife. For more information, visit wwf.ca.