Federal and Provincial Governments Create National Advisory Panel on Canada’s biodiversity conservation initiative

News Release

Panel of experts to advise governments on protecting at least 17% of Canada's land and freshwater by 2020 

June 8, 2017                                                     Ottawa, Ontario            

Canada is committed to conserve at least 17 per cent of our country’s land and freshwater through a network of parks, protected and conserved areas, and other effective area-based conservation measures by 2020. Building this network will be achieved only through a pan-Canadian collaboration and the collective action of many communities, partners and stakeholders.

Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna, along with the Honourable Shannon Phillips, Minister of Alberta Environment and Parks and Minister Responsible for the Climate Change Office, introduced the experts, appointed to a National Advisory Panel, who will advise governments on achieving Canada’s international commitment to biodiversity conservation.

Selected from nearly 150 candidates, the National Advisory Panel consists of individuals representing a broad spectrum of perspectives, including Indigenous organizations, environmental non-governmental organizations, resource industries, academia, and youth. The Panel members are tasked with providing practical and innovative recommendations based on the best available science and traditional knowledge on how we can collectively achieve Canada’s land and freshwater target by 2020. The Panel report will be publicly available to all Canadians in late 2017.

Canada’s approach to biodiversity conservation reflects a renewed nation-to-nation relationship that is based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership and supports the involvement of Indigenous communities in every aspect of the initiative. An Indigenous Circle of Experts has been created to provide Indigenous expert advice throughout all elements of the initiative. In addition, special attention is being directed to developing criteria for Indigenous Protected and Conservation Areas, which could play a significant role in achieving the land and freshwater conservation target.

This is the first time in over 25 years federal and provincial governments have agreed to work together on expanding Canada’s collection of protected and conserved areas. It is also the first effort to move from a collection to a connected network of protected and conserved areas. A connected network is the only way to conserve Canada’s biological diversity for generations to come. A connected network will also play an important role in contributing to the recovery of species at risk and in managing the impacts of climate change by maintaining resilient ecosystems and by helping plants, animals, and their habitats adapt to changes. An expanded network of protected and conserved areas will provide additional opportunities for Canadians to connect with nature. 

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“Our Government is committed to expanding our system of protected areas and protecting Canada’s biodiversity. We are honoured to present the members of the National Advisory Panel to Canadians. We value the contribution of Indigenous Peoples in our collective efforts to achieve Canada’s land and freshwater conservation target. We look forward to their recommendations on how we as a nation can meet our goal of building a connected network of protected and conserved areas to protect Canada’s biodiversity. As Canada celebrates the 150th anniversary of Confederation, what better gift to offer the world than to create a natural legacy for future generations.” 

The Honourable Catherine McKenna
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister Responsible for Parks Canada

The steps we take today will help protect our rivers, forests and other wild spaces for future generations. This new National Advisory Panel reflects Canada’s diversity, while bringing together voices needed to achieve our ambitious conservation targets.” 

The Honourable Shannon Phillips
Minister of Alberta Environment and Parks and the Minister Responsible for the Climate Change Office

Quick Facts

  • Parks Canada and Alberta Environment and Parks are co-leading the land and freshwater conservation initiative, which will develop best practices and indicators for measuring progress towards conserving at least 17 per cent of Canada's land areas and inland water by 2020 and building a coordinated and connected network of protected and conserved areas throughout the country.

  • In addition to the land and inland water target, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Parks Canada, and partners are working jointly on the marine component of the commitment to conserve at least 10 per cent of marine and coastal areas by 2020.

  • In 2010, members of the international community identified 20 biodiversity targets, known as the Aichi Targets, to be achieved by 2020 in order to reverse the global decline of biodiversity. Canada’s commitment to protect biodiversity is based on these international commitments.

  • Based on the most current data, 10.6 per cent of land and 1.18 per cent of marine areas of Canada are protected by the provinces, territories, the federal government, Indigenous groups, and non-profit and private sector organizations.

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Marie-Pascale Des Rosiers
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Jeremy Van Loon
Alberta Environment and Parks
Press Secretary


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