As we grapple with the impacts of climate change, it seems more people are also paying attention to the long-standing issue of biodiversity loss in Canada. The planet is losing wild species and entire ecosystems, while scientists predict that up to one million species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades.
As the second largest country in the world, Canada’s biodiversity is globally significant, with vast areas of land and water, and rare species and ecosystems found nowhere else. That’s why the work of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Canada — an organization that saves wildlife and wild places in Canada through science, conservation action, and inspiring people to value nature — is so important.
“From bumblebees to songbirds, we’ve seen a drastic decline in many wildlife populations,” says Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne, director of Key Biodiversity Areas at WCS Canada. “With the decline of wildlife, we also lose the benefits that nature provides to people. These benefits range from clean air and water to pollination of crops to the well-being we all experience when we spend time outdoors. The loss of wildlife and ecosystems also means we lose the experience and beauty of living on a diverse and thriving planet.”
With a mission to reverse biodiversity loss, WCS Canada mixes on-the-ground scientific research and policy action to help protect wild species and wild areas across Canada. One of its most important projects is the Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) initiative, which identifies and highlights important areas with high ecological value.
“One of the key challenges of conservation is knowing where to invest in conservation and to ensure that resources are directed at the most important and urgent places,” Raudsepp-Hearne says. “If we know where sites of unparalleled importance to nature are located, we have the chance to conserve and steward them appropriately. By identifying Key Biodiversity Areas across Canada, we can help ensure that investments in nature are directed to the right places, at the right time and for the right reasons.”
With the help of RBC Tech for Nature, a program that supports new ideas, technologies, and partnerships to address and solve pressing environmental challenges, WCS Canada is partnering with Birds Canada and NatureServe Canada to support and strengthen the data management and information sharing of the KBA initiative.
“Protecting our biodiversity will be important for generations to come, and WCS Canada is playing an important role in this work,” said Mark Beckles, vice president of social impact and innovation at RBC. “Unlocking the right data and leveraging the right technologies now will increase our understanding of the important role that nature plays in our daily lives and how our actions impact it.”
To address biodiversity loss in Canada, comprehensive information on species and ecosystems needs to be easily accessible to all. With this in mind, WCS Canada, Birds Canada, and NatureServe Canada will work together to create a biodiversity atlas that features KBAs.
The atlas will bring scientific data and expertise into publicly-accessible data portals, and will include new biodiversity data tools and products essential to decision-making about conservation and land-use planning. Ultimately, Raudsepp-Hearne says, it will “inform discussions regarding the federal government mandate to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and help Canadians learn more about nature and conservation.”
As she points out, every one of us has a role to play in preventing biodiversity loss and protecting nature.
“There are lots of things we can all do to help nature, from growing native plants that help pollinators to voting for laws that better protect nature to supporting organizations like WCS Canada,” she says. “Often these actions may seem small, but their collective impact can have the power to halt and reverse the decline of wild species and spaces.”
“Getting outside and just learning about the diversity of nature in Canada, and how important it is to our own well-being can help us all value nature more. And when we love and value nature, we will want to protect it more now and for future generations.”
For more information about RBC’s strategy to support its clients in sectors across the economy in a socially inclusive transition to net-zero, and the risks and opportunities it faces, please visit rbc.com/climate.
To learn more about RBC’s Tech For Nature initiative, visit Daily Hive’s Tech for Nature content hub.