Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on land

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15Footnote 1 aims to:

  • protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems
  • sustainably manage forests
  • combat desertification
  • halt and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss

The 2030 Agenda sets a number of diverse targets for protecting the planet from degradation. It includes the sustainable management of land and water ecosystems and combatting the poaching and trafficking of protected species.

Canadian ambition under Life on land

Canada’s ambitions for this goal are to:

  • ensure all species have healthy and viable populations
  • conserve and restore ecosystems and habitat, with a national target to conserve 25% of Canada’s land and inland waters by 2025, and working toward 30% by 2030
  • sustainably manage forests, lakes, and rivers

Canadian Indicator Framework

In collaboration with federal departments and agencies, Statistics Canada has developed the Canadian Indicator Framework (CIF) for the Sustainable Development Goals. The CIF includes 76 indicators specific to Canada, which measure progress using a set of nationally relevant, objective and comprehensive indicators. CIF indicators for SDG 15 are:

  • Proportion of native wild species ranked secure or apparently secure according to the national extinction risk level
  • Proportion of species at risk showing progress towards their population and distribution objectives
  • Proportion of terrestrial (land and freshwater) areas conserved
  • Proportion of the forest area under an independently verified forest management certification scheme
  • Forest area as a proportion of total land area

What we are doing to improve life on land in Canada

Canada continues to increase the amount of conserved terrestrial area (land and freshwater). As of the end of 2020, 12.5% of Canada's terrestrial areas and inland water was recognized as conserved through a network of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.

Canada was the first industrialized country to ratify the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. It has been the host of the Convention’s Secretariat since it was established in 1996. Cooperative work by federal, provincial, territorial, Indigenous, and municipal governments, industry, conservation organizations and others, is advancing biodiversity conservation and ecosystem health in Canada.

Canada’s 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets sets out 4 goals and 19 targets. It articulates the ways in which Canada will contribute to the achievement of the global Aichi Targets. Targets that cover issues including:

  • conserving terrestrial areas and inland water
  • wetland conservation
  • invasive alien species
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • sustainable forestry
  • agriculture and fisheries
  • getting Canadians out into nature

The Government of Canada is committed to taking ambitious action to restore and protect biodiversity. Recent historic investments have put Canada on the path toward:

  • protecting 25% of land, lakes and oceans
  • protecting wildlife and recover species at risk
  • developing and implementing nature agreements with provinces and territories.
  • supporting Indigenous-led conservation through establishment of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas
  • delivering the Indigenous Partnerships and Indigenous Guardians initiatives
  • enhancing Canadians access to nature
  • creating jobs in nature conservation and management

The Government of Canada is also working to establish 10 new national parks and 10 new national marine conservation areas (NMCAs) in the next 5 years. The federal government is also working with Indigenous communities on co-management agreements for these national parks and NMCAs.

The Government of Canada, in collaboration with provinces and territories, implements the Pan-Canadian Approach to Transforming Species at Risk Conservation in Canada and concentrates conservation efforts on priority places, species, sectors and threats. This approach has shifted from a single-species approach to conservation to one that focuses on multiple species and ecosystems.

The State of Canada’s Forests annual report provides information to help Canada manage forests more sustainably, allowing decision-making based on robust historical data sets and key sustainable forest management indicators. The report provides a snapshot of the social, economic and environmental status of forests and forestry in Canada. A broad audience, including the public, uses the report.

Canada will carry out research to continuously increase knowledge and refine its world-leading practices for the sustainable management of forests.

The Government will also help protect old growth forests, notably in British Columbia, by:

  • advancing a nature agreement with B.C.
  • establishing a $50 million B.C. Old Growth Nature Fund
  • ensuring First Nations and Métis, as well as local communities and workers are partners in shaping the path forward on nature protection

What Canada is doing to improve life on land abroad

Federal leadership in sustainable forest management is demonstrated through the International Model Forest Network. The network was developed in Canada in the early 1990s. Its secretariat is housed within the Natural Resources Canada. Today, 60 Model Forests in 35 countries cover an area of more than 70 million hectares.

Canada is working with other Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity to develop a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. The Framework is expected to be adopted in 2022. Following the adoption of a new Framework, Canada will develop a domestic implementation plan covering all aspects of nature conservation and sustainable use, in collaboration with provincial, territorial, and Indigenous governments, and stakeholders.

Canada is a Party to many other Conventions related to this SDG, including the:

  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival
  • Convention on Wetlands (the Ramsar Convention), an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources
  • Canada is also working with Parties of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification that calls for global action “to combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world”

Canada is a member of the Arctic Council working group on the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna. Through its work with the working group, Canada collaborates with other Arctic States and with representatives from Indigenous peoples in the Arctic Council, to address and support policy and decision making pertaining to Arctic biodiversity. The working group’s objectives are to:

  • develop common responses to biodiversity issues of importance to the Arctic, including monitoring and research
  • communicate findings to promote best practices to ensure the sustainability of the Arctic’s living resources

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