Protecting nature and Canadians

Conserving Canada’s landscapes and seascapes and protecting its wild species are essential to environmental, social and economic well-being. Wild species face a range of threats, such as pollution, overexploitation, incidental loss due to resource harvesting, and most importantly, the loss, fragmentation and degradation of their habitat. They also face indirect impacts from human activities, such as stresses caused by invasive species, new diseases and climate change. Habitat loss caused by human activity is the leading cause of biodiversity loss in Canada and around the world.

Goal 4: Conserving and restoring ecosystems, wildlife and habitat, and protecting Canadians

Resilient ecosystems with healthy wildlife populations so Canadians can enjoy benefits from natural spaces, resources and ecological services for generations to come.

Progress statements

In 2010, 77% of Canadian wild species assessed in the General Status of Wildlife Species in Canada report were ranked “secure.” The number of protected areas and the total area protected in Canada continued to grow.

Remaining challenges

Canada’s wild species continue to face threats that include habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species, and the effects of climate change. Of the over 8500 species considered in the 2010 General Status Report, 12% were considered “at risk” or “may be at risk.”

While 57% of managed migratory bird species have population sizes within an acceptable range, 43% do not. The proportion of species with acceptable population sizes varies between ecological groups—for example, only 18% of grassland bird species and 28% of aerial insectivores have acceptable population sizes.

What we know

Of more than 8500 wild species assessed in 2010, 77% were ranked “secure,” 12% were ranked “at risk” or “may be at risk,” and the remaining 11% were considered “sensitive.” The proportion of species ranked “secure” ranged from 57% in Nunavut to 78% in New Brunswick (see Figure 17).

Learn more: visit the CESI website.

Figure 17: General status ranks of wild species in Canada, 2010

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[Long description of Figure 17]

The bar chart shows the proportion of species ranked "secure", "sensitive", "may be at risk" and "at risk" in Canada and in provinces and territories. Among Canada’s wild species assessed in 2010, 77% were ranked "secure" and 12% were ranked as either "at risk" or "may be at risk". Saskatchewan has the highest proportion of species ranked "at risk" or "may be at risk" at 24%. New Brunswick and Newfound-and-Labrador have the highest proportion of species ranked "secure", at 78% and 74% respectively.

Species at risk

Some wildlife species in Canada have experienced serious population declines as a result of habitat reduction and other pressures. Species at risk or those that may become at risk can be protected under the Species at Risk Act (SARA).

Target 4.1: Species at risk

By 2020, populations of species at risk listed under federal law exhibit trends that are consistent with recovery strategies and management plans.

Progress statements

Of the 307 species at risk that had final recovery strategies or management plans as of May 2015, 112 had population-oriented goals reassessed. Of these 112 species, 43 (38%) showed population trends consistent with the goals of the recovery strategies.

What we know

While not all species at risk have been identified, as of February 2015, 521 animal and plant species in Canada were classified as “Endangered,” “Threatened,” or of “Special Concern” under Schedule 1 of SARA.

Of the 307 species at risk that had final recovery strategies or management plans as of May 2015, about one third (112 species) had population-oriented goals reassessed. Of these, 38% (43 species) had current population trends that are consistent with the goals laid out in the recovery strategies, and 40 (36%) showed trends that are inconsistent with goals. Another 9 (8%) had both some indication of improvement and some indication of decline. For the remaining 20 species (18%), there are insufficient data to determine trends.

Learn more: visit the CESI website.

Activity under the 2013–2016 FSDS

A range of federal initiatives and funding continue to support this target. Funding announced in 2014 under the National Conservation Plan supports the Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP) and the Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk while introducing, as a preventive measure, new funding for species that are not at risk.

The federal government continued to work with others to conserve species at risk and help them recover. For example:

The federal government is collaborating with the Government of Alberta and stakeholders to conserve Westslope Cutthroat Trout in Alberta. For example, the government is working with the Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society (also known as Cows and Fish) to raise awareness and implement conservation actions. Collaboration with the Government of Alberta has included developing and implementing a communication and education strategy to accompany provincial fishing regulation changes that came into force when Westslope Cutthroat Trout was listed under SARA in 2013.

Detailed information about the plans and performance of federal departments and agencies respecting their FSDS commitments for this target may be found in their Departmental Sustainable Development Strategies. Responsible departments and agencies: ECCC (lead), DFO,National Defence (DND), PC.

Migratory birds

Sustainable and responsible waterfowl hunting contributes to tourism, provides food and maintains traditions. Bird watching is a popular activity for many in backyards, neighbourhoods and natural habitats. Birds also provide ecological benefits by controlling insect and rodent populations, dispersing seeds and pollinating plants. These “ecosystem services” contribute to our economy and our well-being.

Human activities have heavily influenced Canada’s bird populations, helping some species while hindering others. Because birds are sensitive to environmental changes, changes in their populations can reflect broader shifts in ecosystem health and the state of biodiversity.

Target 4.2: Migratory birds

Improve the proportion of migratory bird species that meet their population goals.

Progress statement

Baseline information indicates that more than half of managed migratory bird species regularly found in Canada have population sizes within an acceptable range.

What we know

Fifty-seven percent (57%) of 368 managed migratory bird species regularly found in Canada had population sizes within an acceptable range in 2013. The proportion of species with acceptable population sizes varies between ecological groups. For example, while most waterfowl (67%) and forest bird species (63%) were within acceptable ranges, only 18% of grassland birds and 28% of aerial insectivores (birds that catch insects while in flight) had acceptable population levels.

Learn more: visit the CESI website.

Activity under the 2013–2016 FSDS

Canada works with the U.S. and Mexico on the North American Bird Conservation Initiative. This agreement was established to conserve bird populations by restoring wetlands, associated uplands and other key habitats, and to engage other bird conservation groups. In Canada, the integration of conservation efforts currently under way for waterfowl, landbirds, shorebirds and waterbirds supports this objective. In 2013 and 2014, 25 Bird Conservation Region strategies were completed and published, with ongoing discussions to further implement conservation measures.

Detailed information about the plans and performance of the federal department respecting the FSDS commitments for this target may be found in its Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy. Responsible department: ECCC.

Terrestrial ecosystems and habitat conservation

Canada’s natural spaces are a vital component of our culture, well-being, heritage, economy and future. They are also of global importance—approximately 30% of the world’s boreal forest and 20% of freshwater resources are in Canada.

Natural areas provide a variety of ecosystem services. For example, lakes and rivers provide drinking water and energy, while forests and wetlands store GHGs, produce oxygen and regulate flooding. Protecting natural areas is crucial to maintaining these ecosystem services as well as conserving biodiversity.

Target 4.3: Terrestrial ecosystems and habitat stewardship

Contribute to the proposed national target so that by 2020, at least 17% of terrestrial areas and inland water are conserved through networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.

Progress statement

10.3% of Canada’s terrestrial area (land and freshwater) is protected as of the end of 2014, and this percentage is expected to continue to increase.

As of 2015, 80 700 square kilometres (km2) of habitat for waterfowl had been secured since 1990 and as of 2014, 1836 km2 habitat for species at risk had been secured since 2000.

What we know

As of the end of 2014, 10.3% (1 026 682 km²) of Canada’s terrestrial area (land and freshwater) has been recognized as protected. Terrestrial area protected has increased by almost 8% in the last 5 years, and close to 90% in the last 20 years. In 2014, federal jurisdictions protected a total terrestrial area of 468 322 km² (see Figure 18).

As of 2015, approximately 80 700 km² of habitat for waterfowl had been secured in Canada through the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, a more than four–fold increase over the last 10 years. The largest increase (from 34 000 to 70 400 km²) occurred in 2008, mainly as a result of habitat secured in the Western Boreal Forest region through Crown designation.

The area secured for species at risk has also increased steadily since inception of the HSP in 2000–2001. As of March 31, 2014, 1836 km² of Canadian habitat had been secured, benefiting up to 603 species assessed as Endangered, Threatened or of Special Concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Learn more: visit the CESI website.

Figure 18: Trends in proportion of terrestrial area protected, Canada, 1990 to 2014

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[Long description of Figure 18]

The line graph shows the percentage of terrestrial area that has been recognized as protected in Canada between 1990 and 2014.

Activity under the 2013–2016 FSDS

Conserving biodiversity is critical to the long-term health, prosperity and security of Canadians. A number of initiatives by the federal government, including participation in international and domestic fora, advance the conservation of terrestrial ecosystems and habitat. For example:

Detailed information about the plans and performance of federal departments and agencies respecting their FSDS commitments for this target may be found in their Departmental Sustainable Development Strategies. Responsible departments and agencies: ECCC (lead), FIN, ISED, PC, StatCan.

Health of national parks

The federal government works to restore Canada’s ecosystems by addressing priority ecological integrity issues in national parks, while providing opportunities for Canadians to connect with nature, and for stakeholders and partners, including Indigenous partners, to work collaboratively.

Target 4.4: Improving the health of national parks

Improve the condition of at least one Ecological Integrity Indicator in 20 national parks by 2015.

Progress statement

As of March 2015, management actions have resulted in improvements to at least one indicator of ecological integrity in 20 national parks.

What we know

As of March 2015, management actions have resulted in improvements to at least 1 indicator of ecological integrity in 20 national parks. Parks Canada (PC) also continues to monitor the ecological integrity of national parks. As of 2013, the percentage of assessed ecosystems in good or fair condition remains high at 91%.

Learn more: visit the Parks Canada website.

Activity under the 2013–2016 FSDS

The federal government continues to invest in and support the health of Canada’s national parks. Through its Conservation and Restoration program, PC is undertaking priority ecosystem restoration projects to improve ecological integrity in key areas such as restoring the health and connectivity of aquatic ecosystems, restoring wildlife corridors, reintroducing species at risk, controlling and removing invasive species, and managing hyperabundant wildlife populations. Projects include:

PC also continues to reintroduce fire as a natural ecosystem process: in 2014–2015, there were 23 prescribed burns in 12 national parks, covering 5448 ha.

Detailed information about the plans and performance of the responsible federal agency respecting the FSDS commitment for this target may be found in its Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy. Responsible department: PC.

Marine ecosystems

Canada’s vast marine territory is important domestically and globally. Its varied ecosystems support an extensive diversity and abundance of marine life, contribute significantly to the Canadian economy, and offer enormous potential for future economic, social and cultural benefits.

Well-designed and well-managed marine protected areas (MPAs) and other effective area-based conservation measures form a key element of integrated ocean management that supports healthy, productive and resilient ecosystems.

Target 4.5: Marine ecosystems

By 2020, 10% of coastal and marine areas are conserved through networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.

Progress statement

From 1990 to 2014, protected coastal and marine areas increased from 0.32% of Canada’s marine territory to 0.9%.

What we know

MPAs are key management tools that help improve the health, integrity and productivity of our marine ecosystems. Canada is establishing a national network of MPAs with the primary goal of protecting marine biodiversity, ecosystem function and special natural features. As of the end of 2014, 0.9% (51 572 km²) of Canada’s marine territory has been recognized as protected. MPA networks will ultimately be developed for each of Canada’s 13 marine bioregions.

Learn more: visit the CESI website.

Activity under the 2013–2016 FSDS

The federal government supports marine ecosystems through research, knowledge-sharing and investments in conservation.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is leading the development of MPA networks in five priority bioregions: the Pacific Northern Shelf; Western Arctic; Newfoundland–Labrador Shelves; Scotian Shelf; and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. These MPA networks are being developed in collaboration with ECCC, PC, provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous groups, industry and non-governmental organizations, as well as other interested parties.

DFO has also made progress towards establishing new individual MPAs. Most notably, in June 2015 the Department released proposed regulations for public comment that would establish the proposed Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs MPA.

The federal government is also working to establish new national marine conservation areas. For example, the government focused its efforts on concluding three feasibility assessments in the unrepresented marine regions of Lancaster Sound in Nunavut, Strait of Georgia in British Columbia, and Magdalen Shallows in Quebec. In addition, the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area Act received royal assent in June 2015. Ultimately, the Act will lead to the formal protection under the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act of the Lake Superior Marine Conservation Area, the world’s largest freshwater MPA.

Collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous organizations, and coastal communities through the Integrated Oceans Management (IOM) process helps to integrate marine conservation measures and ensure the sustainable long-term human use of the ocean. As reported in Canada’s 5th National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity, published in March 2014, the federal government led the development of IOM plans in five Large Oceans Management Areas; four are currently being implemented.

Detailed information about the plans and performance of federal departments and agencies respecting their FSDS commitments for this target may be found in their Departmental Sustainable Development Strategies. Responsible departments and agencies: DFO (lead), ECCC, PC.

Invasive alien species

Invasive alien species are a significant threat to biodiversity. In their new ecosystems, these species become predators, competitors, parasites, hybridizers, and diseases for native and domesticated plants and animals. Their impact on native ecosystems, habitats and species is severe and often irreversible. They can also have costly impacts on economic sectors such as forestry, fisheries, aquaculture and agriculture.

Target 4.6: Invasive alien species

By 2020, pathways of invasive alien species introductions are identified, and risk-based intervention or management plans are in place for priority pathways and species.

Progress statements

No new invasive species were found to have become established in Canada in 2012 and 2013.

The federal government is conducting pathway and species risk assessments, including assessments of weeds for potential quarantine and assessments of aquatic species for potential regulations.

The government has developed risk-impact matrices for five groups of high-priority pathogens and completed an assessment of the risk posed by the invasive Phytophthora ramorum (commonly known as sudden oak death disease) to various Canadian tree species such as oak and larch.

What we know

More alien species are being introduced into Canada with the increasing trade and travel that accompany globalization. Pathways of introduction include ships’ ballast water, recreational boating, and the aquarium, pet and horticultural trades. Alien species can also enter Canada as “hitchhikers” on commodities such as wood products and ornamental plants, or as stowaways on various modes of transportation.

The federal government may regulate alien species if a risk analysis shows they are potentially invasive and that regulation is likely to be effective. As of the end of 2013, 248 species are federally regulated but not established in Canada, including 2 that were first regulated in 2012 and 15 first regulated in 2013. None of these species were found to have been established in Canada since January 2012.

Learn more: visit the CESI website.

Activity under the 2013–2016 FSDS

With key responsibilities for international import and export and inter-provincial trade, the federal government has a primary role in creating the regulatory framework to ensure the prevention and detection of, and rapid response to, invasive alien species. This includes a wide range of measures, including:

Initiatives to protect the Great Lakes from the effects of invasive alien species include:

Detailed information about the plans and performance of federal departments and agencies respecting their FSDS commitments for this target may be found in their Departmental Sustainable Development Strategies.Responsible departments and agencies: ECCC (lead), Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), DFO, NRCan, TC.

Environmental disasters, incidents and emergencies

Environmental disasters, incidents and emergencies are events that threaten the environment as well as those that endanger human health. They include natural events such as forest fires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and ice storms. They also include accidents related to industrial operations: for example, transportation-related accidents that release hazardous substances.

Target 4.7: Environmental disasters, incidents and emergencies

Environmental disasters, incidents and emergencies are prevented or their impacts mitigated.

Progress statements

As of March 2015, 86% of federal institutions have assessed their strategic emergency plan and taken actions to address risks related to their area of responsibility.

Of the 2449 facilities that implemented environmental emergency (E2) plans in 2014–2015, 21 had environmental emergencies (0.9%).

What we know

Between April 2012 and March 2015, fewer than 1% of facilities with E2 plans (as required by the federal Environmental Emergency Regulations) reported environmental emergencies.

Learn more: visit the CESI website.

Activity under the 2013–2016 FSDS

The federal government undertakes a range of activities and makes investments to prevent and reduce the impacts of environmental emergencies within Canada. For example, the government established the National Disaster Mitigation Program in April 2015. The Program addresses rising flood risks and costs, and will build the foundation for future investments that could reduce or negate the effects of flood events. The federal government also invested in 20 new science and technology projects in 2014 as part of an approximately $14.5 million allocation under the Canadian Safety and Security Program. This initiative will support investments in science and technology projects that will strengthen Canada’s ability to anticipate, prevent, mitigate, prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters, serious accidents, crime and terrorism.

The government also continued to establish and implement regulations and conduct oversight to prevent and respond to incidents, ensure preparedness and determine liabilities arising from incidents.

Amendments to the Radio Regulations, 1986, the Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987, and the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations were announced in August 2014 in support of alerting Canadians to imminent threats to life. The amendments make participation in the National Public Alerting System mandatory for radio and television broadcasters, cable and satellite companies, and video-on-demand services by March 31, 2015, and for campus, community and Native broadcasters by March 31, 2016.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) is the primary federal government department responsible for emergency management in First Nations communities. Its Emergency Management Assistance Program enables funding and coordination assistance to First Nations on reserve lands in the event of emergencies like fires and floods, often through arrangements with provincial and territorial governments for the delivery of emergency management services to First Nations. From 2013 to 2015, INAC allocated close to $239 million for emergency management, of which 70% was for response and recovery activities. The federal government has since created a new single window for First Nations to secure funding for emergency costs, provided $19.1 million to facilitate negotiation of agreements with provinces and territories and support emergency preparedness activities, and obtained an additional $29.33 million of sustainable funding to cover annual response and recovery costs. These concrete actions improve emergency management on reserve lands and support stronger and more resilient First Nation communities while contributing to reducing the risks of environmental disasters, incidents and emergencies, and safeguarding residents.

Federal government planning that supports resource development includes initiatives such as the following.

Detailed information about the plans and performance of federal departments and agencies respecting their FSDS commitments for this target may be found in their Departmental Sustainable Development Strategies. Responsible departments and agencies: ECCC (co–lead), Public Safety Canada (PS) (co–lead), AAFC, DFO, HC, INAC, ISED, National Energy Board (NEB), NRCan, PC, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), TC.

Chemicals management

Toxic substances released into the environment are known to have harmful effects on human health, wildlife and biological diversity. Toxic metals and organic pollutants can be inhaled or deposited onto soil and into water, where they can enter the food chain and accumulate in the body tissues of living organisms. Some of these substances can also be transported over great distances by air.

Target 4.8: Chemicals management

Reduce risks to Canadians and impacts on the environment and human health posed by releases of harmful substances.

Progress statements

The government is making progress in reducing environmental and health risks posed by releases of harmful substances:

  • As of 2013, mercury, lead and cadmium emissions to air have been reduced to about 10% of 1990 levels (emission reductions of 88%, 90% and 90% respectively).
  • Monitoring and surveillance of harmful substances in the environment shows that concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in fish and sediment are decreasing, and that perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) levels in water and in fish tissue are within guidelines for water quality and fish health, though in some areas they exceed safe levels for wildlife eating those fish.
  • As of March 31, 2014, 100% of new substances notifications received have been assessed under the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP).

What we know

Reductions in mercury (Hg), lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd) emissions to air are mainly due to reduced emissions from industrial sources (see Figure 19).

Releases of Hg, Pb and Cd to water decreased by 45%, 50% and 44% respectively between 2003 and 2013. These reductions are mainly due to reduced releases from wastewater treatment plants and from some industrial sources.

ECCC conducted sediment sampling in nine drainage regions between 2009 and 2014. Of the nine, six were found to have levels of pentaBDE that exceeded the Federal Environmental Quality Guidelines (numerical limits established under the CMP to protect aquatic ecosystems), and two had levels of decaBDE that exceeded the guidelines. Concentrations above the guidelines indicate that further evaluation may be required.

Information included in three Reports on Human Biomonitoring of Environmental Chemicals in Canada (2007–2009, 2009–2011, 2012–2013) is helping to establish an understanding of health risk factors, detect emerging trends in risk factors and exposures, advance health surveillance and research, and assess the effectiveness of actions by government and others in Canada.

Learn more: visit the CESI website.

Figure 19: Releases of heavy metal to air and water, Canada, 1990 to 2013 (air) and 2003 to 2013 (water)

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[Long description of Figure 19]

The 1st indexed line chart shows the annual changes in emissions to air from 1990 to 2013, as a percentage of 1990 emissions, for three pollutants in Canada: mercury, lead and cadmium.

The 2nd indexed line chart shows the annual changes in releases from 2003 to 2013, as a percentage of 2003 releases, for three pollutants in water in Canada: mercury, lead and cadmium.

Activity under the 2013–2016 FSDS

Since the launch of the CMP in 2006, the federal government has conducted risk assessments for approximately 2700 existing substances and 3000 new substances. Of the 97 substances (or groups of substances) found to be harmful to the environment and/or human health since 2006, 80% are of health concern, 16% are of ecological concern and 4% are both. The government has developed, or is in the process of developing, risk management actions for approximately 360 of the 2700 individual existing substances noted above.

The government is making progress toward the objectives of the second phase of the CMP. Key deliverables include updating the second phase of the Domestic Substances List Inventory, continuing to conduct approximately 500 pre-market evaluations on new substances per year and manage risk when required, prioritizing the Revised In-Commerce List, and continuing environmental and health monitoring, surveillance and research programs.

The federal government continues to initiate the re-evaluation of every registered pesticide on a 15-year cycle as per the requirement of the Pest Control Products Act. Pesticides are re-evaluated to ensure that their uses continue to be acceptable under today’s modern standards of health and environmental protection.

In January 2013, the federal government published the final Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations, 2012. These regulations prohibit the manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale or import of certain toxic substances, such as benzenamine, N-phenylreaction products with styrene and 2,4,4-trimethylpentene, and short-chain chlorinated alkanes.

To reduce the amount of mercury entering the environment, the federal government published the Products Containing Mercury Regulations on November 19, 2014. These regulations are the first of their kind in Canada and prohibit the manufacture and importation of most mercury-containing products.

Other federal activities and investments to manage chemicals include the following:

Detailed information about the plans and performance of federal departments and agencies respecting their FSDS commitments for this target may be found in their Departmental Sustainable Development Strategies. Responsible departments and agencies: ECCC (co-lead), HC (co-lead), AAFC, Correctional Service Canada (CSC), DFO, DND, INAC, ISED, NRC, PC, PSPC, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), TC.

Biological resources

While forests, fish and agricultural products are renewable resources, inadequate ecosystem management can contribute to their depletion and threaten the viability of the sectors that depend on them. Lack of attention to the sustainable management of these resources can also threaten the biodiversity and environmental well-being of Canada’s oceans, lakes, wetlands, rivers, grasslands and forests.

Goal 5: Biological resources

Efficient economic and ecological use of resources—Production and consumption of biological resources are sustainable.

Progress statements

From 1990 to 2013, annual timber harvest has been in the range of 47% to 85% of Canada’s wood supply, and 48% of major fish stocks were considered healthy in 2014, an increase from 46% in 2011.

Remaining challenges

More intensive agriculture and aquaculture, in response to growing demand, continues to put pressure on the environment.

Although 74 major fish stocks (48% of the total) were considered healthy in 2014, 16 (10%) were in the “critical” category. Stocks in the critical zone have a level of productivity that may result in serious harm to the resource.

What we know

Between 1990 and 2013, timber harvests in Canada ranged from 47% to 85% of the estimated Canadian supply of industrial roundwood (wood supply). Canada’s wood supply has remained relatively stable since 1990 at an average of 239 million cubic metres (see Figure 20).

Of the 131 fish stocks with a known status in 2014, 75 stocks were in the healthy category, and 16 stocks were in the critical zone. Knowledge about the state of the stocks has improved; with 11 fewer stocks in the unknown category since 2011 (see Figure 21). It can take many years for biological systems to respond to changes in management.

Learn more: visit the CESI website.

Figure 20: Wood supply and annual harvest of industrial roundwood, Canada, 1990 to 2013

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[Long description of Figure 20]

The upper line in the graph shows the estimated wood supply. Canada's wood supply remained relatively stable from 1990 to 2013, at an average of 239 million cubic metres. The lower line in the graph shows the annual harvest of industrial roundwood from 1990 to 2013. The annual harvest volume reached a peak of 205 million cubic metres in 2004, and then declined to a low of 114 million cubic metres in 2009, the smallest harvest since 1990. There has been some recovery in recent years.

 

Figure 21: Status of major fish stocks, Canada, 2011 to 2014

[Short description of Figure 21] (See long description below)
[Long description of Figure 21]

The column chart shows the number of major stocks of wild fish in each stock status zone, grouped by year from 2011 to 2014.

Sustainable fisheries

The federal government works to secure the future of our wild capture fisheries through sustainable and responsible fisheries management that is science-based, applies the precautionary approach, and addresses ecosystem considerations using risk analysis and assessment.

While conservation remains the top priority, the federal government also supports an economically prosperous fishery, working to improve its competitiveness by investing in conservation measures and activities, and by adjusting the balance of harvesting with that of resource capacity in order to provide more stable employment, particularly in coastal communities.

Target 5.1: Sustainable fisheries

Improve the management and conservation of major stocks.

Progress statement

In 2014, 99% of 155 major fish stocks were harvested at sustainable levels, an increase from 90% in 2011.

What we know

In 2014, for 67 major fish stocks (43% of 155 stocks assessed), there was sufficient historical information to set the harvest level using the mathematically based removal reference, while the harvest levels for an additional 86 stocks (55%) were set using other scientific approaches. Two stocks (1%) were harvested above approved levels.

Learn more: visit the CESI website.

Activity under the 2013–2016 FSDS

The federal government delivers an integrated fisheries program that contributes to sustainable wealth for Canadians through the development and implementation of Integrated Fisheries Management Plans (IFMP). These plans provide science-based information on the stock status, current management issues and objectives, enforcement and compliance measures, and strategies for a particular species in a given region. In 2013, IFMPs were developed for the Canadian Atlantic Herring, the Canadian Atlantic Swordfish and Other Tunas, and for Shrimp-Scotian Shelf. These are in addition to the growing list of evergreen or multi-year IFMPs that currently exist for other stocks.

In addition, the federal government supports a range of complementary initiatives. At the national level, DFO continues to elaborate and implement the suite of policies under the Sustainable Fisheries Framework, such as the multi-year initiative to develop a risk-based national catch monitoring policy.

On a regional basis, targeted initiatives are under way. For example, under the second round of the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program, the Fraser Valley Watersheds Coalition will receive up to $124 000 to restore salmon habitat in channels of the natural floodplain of the Vedder River. The project will benefit Coho, Chum and Pink salmon, as well as Steelhead and Cut-throat trout.

On the East Coast, incomes were increased through the lobster sustainability program in Newfoundland (specifically in Fortune Bay, the southwest coast and the west coast), which promoted voluntary reductions of lobster traps and retirement of lobster licences. The program, which concluded in 2014, permanently removed 105 000 lobster traps from the fishery (a 36% reduction) and 266 lobster licenses (a 24% reduction).

Detailed information about the plans and performance of the responsible federal department respecting its FSDS commitments may be found in its Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy. Responsible department: DFO.

Sustainable aquaculture

Aquaculture is a rapidly growing industry with roots that go back to 1865 when oyster production began in Prince Edward Island. The environmental impact of the industry has grown as well, and efforts are being made to address issues such as the use of wild fish as feed, the escape of cultured fish and their pathogens, the use of pharmaceuticals, and the release of untreated waste.

Target 5.2: Sustainable aquaculture

By 2020, all aquaculture in Canada is managed under a science-based regime that promotes the sustainable use of aquatic resources (including marine, freshwater and land-based) in ways that conserve biodiversity.

Progress statements

Integrated Management of Aquaculture Plans have been completed for British Columbia finfish and shellfish. The Plan for freshwater species is currently in development. National aquaculture science programs are in place to inform other regulatory processes under the Fisheries Act (for example, the Aquaculture Activities Regulations).

What we know

The entire Canadian aquaculture sector (100%) is managed under the science-based environmental framework of the Fisheries Act and its associated regulations.

From 2011 to 2013, the compliance rate of aquaculture operations with Fisheries Act regulations was over 99% each year. This percentage is based on the total number of charges issued divided by the total number of aquaculture sites checked. Ensuring aquaculture operators meet environmental protection standards helps protect our aquatic environment and conserve marine resources for future generations.

Activity under the 2013–2016 FSDS

In renewing the Sustainable Aquaculture Program (SAP) with $54 million over five years (2013–2018), the federal government is further improving the regulatory system for the aquaculture sector in Canada under the Fisheries Act. This investment is targeted for three key initiatives:

Improvements to the regulatory system include:

The federal government also continues to deliver three key national programs that support aquaculture:

Detailed information about the plans and performance of the responsible federal department respecting its FSDS commitments for this target may be found in its Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy. Responsible department: DFO.

Sustainable forest management

Canada’s forest sector, which includes forestry and logging, pulp and paper, and wood product manufacturing, accounted for about 1% of Canada’s total gross domestic product in 2013.

The federal government is working to maintain a vibrant forest economy while protecting the health of forested lands and maximizing their many environmental and social benefits.

Target 5.3: Sustainable forest management

Contribute to the proposed national target so that by 2020, continued progress is made on the sustainable management of Canada’s forests.

Progress statements

Through its participation on advisory boards and committees, NRCan provides scientific expertise to stakeholders on how to address challenges related to maintaining the sustainability of forest ecosystems. In 2013–2014, 77 NRCan representatives sat on disturbances advisory boards and committees, up from 73 in the previous reporting period.

What we know

The Canadian Forest Service participates on advisory boards and committees involving governments, industry and non-governmental organizations, providing scientific knowledge on forest ecosystems. In 2013–2014, 77 NRCan representatives sat on disturbances advisory boards and committees, compared with 73 in the previous reporting period. As this indicator fluctuates annually, through its representation on 123 forest ecosystem advisory boards and committees, NRCan was within 5% of its target of participating in 128 such organizations in 2013–2014.

Activity under the 2013–2016 FSDS

Through participation in over 120 forest-ecosystem advisory boards and committees, the federal government provides scientific expertise to stakeholders on how to address challenges related to maintaining the sustainability of forest ecosystems.

The government also helps address national forest sector issues: for example, through the development of a tracking system to enable reporting on the effects of climate change on Canada’s forests, an adaptation toolkit and resources (including maps, databases, web applications and synthesis reports) and an integrated assessment of the impacts of climate change on Canada’s forests and forest sector are also under way.

In 2013, the federal government produced a series of 11 papers synthesizing the available scientific research on the impacts of human development, resource use and climate change on Canada’s boreal zone. The papers will be publicly available by the end of 2015 on the NRCan website.

The federal government also invested in two key initiatives to support sustainable forest management:

Detailed information about the plans and performance of the responsible federal department respecting the FSDS commitment for this target may be found in its Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy. Responsible department: NRCan.

Sustainable agriculture

In recent decades, agriculture has undergone significant changes in response to evolving market demands and new production technologies.

Target 5.4: Sustainable agriculture

By 2020, agricultural working landscapes provide a stable or improved level of biodiversity and habitat capacity.

Progress statements

As of 2013–2014, more than 85% of ranges in the Community Pastures Program were rated good or excellent in terms of their capacity to support biodiversity and provide habitat for wildlife.

Ninety-five percent (95%) of farms have taken action on their Environmental Farm Plan to improve agri-environmental risk assessment and risk mitigation.

What we know

The number of farms in Canada has decreased, while the average farm size has increased. More specifically, both crop area as a proportion of farmland and the number of head of livestock have increased over this time. Coupled with these changes is an increased awareness among producers and the public of the pressures that agricultural production places on the environment. The federal government continues to work toward indicators of wildlife habitat capacity on farmland and environmental farm planning on agricultural land.

Learn more: visit the CESI website.

Activity under the 2013–2016 FSDS

The federal government continues to play a key role in agricultural science and research. For example, it maintains key critical sources of information and knowledge within the National Biological Collections. These collections include the Canadian National Collection of Insects—Arachnids and Nematodes; National Mycological Herbarium; Canadian Collection of Fungal Cultures; AAFC National Collection of Vascular Plants; Plant Gene Resources of Canada; Canadian Animal Genetic Resources; and Canadian Plant Virus Collection. The material and information contained in these collections enable public and private research that benefits the economy and trade, food and agriculture, public health and safety, monitoring of invasive alien species, and national security. These collections are also the foundation for essential research and development activities that help the agricultural sector adapt to changes resulting from natural challenges, such as changes in climate, pests and diseases.

Through cost-shared programs under the federal-provincial-territorial Growing Forward 2 agricultural policy framework, provinces and territories have the flexibility to design programs that address their environmental priorities. Programming under this five-year framework helps farmers assess environmental risks, plan mitigation activities and increase adoption of sustainable practices at farm and landscape levels.

Extension practices and incentive programs can encourage the voluntary participation of landowners in implementing land management practices that favour wildlife, such as conserving riparian areas, adopting conservation tillage, managing woodlands, implementing rotation grazing, converting marginal cropland to permanent cover, and conserving natural remaining habitats. For example, Saskatchewan’s Farm Stewardship Program, with an annual budget of $4.6 million (2013–2018), provides assistance to eligible producers to help implement sustainable farming practices.

Detailed information about the plans and performance of the responsible federal department respecting the FSDS commitments for this target may be found in its Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy. Responsible department: AAFC.

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