CPAWS-BC celebrates “historic investment” in nature conservation in 2018 federal budget
Vancouver, BC – The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s British Columbia Chapter (CPAWS-BC) applauds today’s announcement of 1.3 billion dollars over 5 years to protect Canada’s wildlife, freshwater, public lands and ocean. This unprecedented investment will enable Canada to achieve its commitment to protect at least 17% of our land and 10% of our ocean by 2020. To date, Canada has protected 10.6% of lands, while less than 0.1% of ocean areas are strongly protected under federal marine protected areas.
“Today is an incredible day for wilderness protection in Canada,” says Bruce Passmore, Executive Director of CPAWS-BC. “This investment will go a long way toward creating new protected areas in BC, such as the South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Reserve and the Southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area Reserve.”
For the first time, the federal budget allocates funding for federal government action on nature conservation as well as to support conservation efforts by Indigenous governments, provinces, territories, and other partners. This cost-shared model is similar to the approach used to deliver on other shared priorities in Canada such as infrastructure, climate change mitigation, and health care.
Highlights of Budget 2018 conservation investments include:
- $500 million over five years for a new $1 billion “Nature Fund” to support conservation partnerships and which will leverage funding from other government and non-governmental sources;
- $167.4 million over five years to better protect and recover endangered whale species in Canada, including the southern resident killer whales; and
- $800 million over five years to support:
- New federal protected areas, including marine protected areas and network planning
- Increased capacity for national park management
- Increased capacity to protect species at risk
- Funding to establish a coordinated network of conservation areas working with provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners.
While the majority of this investment will support terrestrial conservation initiatives, CPAWS-BC welcomes the additional funding allocated to protecting Canada’s ocean.
“With some of our most iconic whales facing extinction, including BC’s southern resident killer whales, we’re pleased to see the budget invest in work to protect and recover whale species,” says Passmore. “We’re hopeful that this new investment will support a network of effective and well-managed marine protected areas to safeguard critical whale habitat, including the Southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area Reserve.”
While few details are available in the budget, CPAWS-BC looks forward to working with all governments and other partners to ensure this new investment delivers on Canada’s conservation commitments.
“This budget represents one of our greatest opportunities to move forward on meeting Canada’s international conservation commitments,” adds Passmore. “Investing in wilderness today means investing in a wild future for Canada.”
Bruce Passmore, CPAWS-BC Executive Director
604-685-7445 ext. 23
The UN Convention on Biological Diversity
In 2010, Canada and other signatories to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity endorsed a strategic plan to reverse a global biodiversity crisis, including a commitment to protect at least 17% of land and inland waters and 10%of ocean areas by 2020 and to improve the quality of protected area networks. The Biodiversity Convention (known as the CBD) was signed in 1992 alongside the UN Convention on Climate Change, recognizing the need to jointly tackle these two critical environmental challenges. Last year the federal government invested in a Pan-Canadian Climate Plan. This year’s investment will support a parallel pan-Canadian effort to protect biodiversity.
The Federal Government’s Recent Efforts towards Achieving Our Commitment
In March 2017, a unanimous report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development made a suite of recommendations for action on protected areas. In February 2017, federal, provincial, and territorial governments launched the “Pathway to Canada Target One” process, working with Indigenous Peoples, civil society, and private interests to jointly deliver on Canada’s land and freshwater protection target. CPAWS staff were appointed to a Ministerial “National Advisory Panel” to advise on this work. The Panel’s report is expected to be released soon.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has been leading federal government efforts towards protecting at least 10% of the ocean by 2020, including the establishment of the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound glass sponge reef MPA in BC.