Grizzlies once roamed the entire North American continent, from Canada to Mexico. But their numbers are shrinking, mostly because of us. We reduce their habitat, destroy so-called “problem bears” that eat our garbage, even kill them for sport. Parts of Alberta and British Columbia are among the last safe havens for this iconic species.
We all depend on rivers, lakes, streams, wetlands and groundwater aquifers every single day—for clean drinking water, to grow our food, support industry, get around, and have fun. Water ecosystems also provide habitat for plants and animals, including some we like to eat (like fish). But pollution, uncontrolled development, and poorly-managed agriculture continue to degrade this irreplaceable necessity.
Wetlands are of are most valuable ecosystems, providing essential services like flood protection, water filtration and carbon storage—as well as homes for an amazing variety of species, including migrating birds. Unfortunately, these benefits are often ignored when decisions are made about how to develop and grow our communities.
Even though Canada is known around the world for untouched wilderness and iconic creatures like polar bears, grizzlies, killer whales and caribou, over 500 species that share this country with us have already been driven from their traditional territories, are at risk of extinction, or have been annihilated altogether. For the majority that make the national Species at Risk Act, the government fails to protect the habitat they need to survive and recover.
It’s easy to forget the amazing things nature does for us for free—filtering our air and water, protecting us from floods, stabilizing our climate—and the food we eat. We’re putting a dollar value on the “ecosystem services” provided by farmland, forests, wetlands, and watersheds to help prevent people from exploiting them, and working to wrap “greenbelts” around cities across the country.
Science shows that time spent in nature makes people healthier and happier. And children who fall in love with the great outdoors grow into adults who care about protecting it. But instead of climbing trees and counting bugs, more and more Canadian kids are spending time indoors, plugged into electronics.
Canada has the world’s longest coastline: three oceans and a sea of arctic ice supporting one of the largest webs of marine life on Earth. Our oceans provide food, oxygen and cultural, recreational and economic opportunities. But they are threatened by industrial fishing, pollution, and climate change.