Symbol of the Government of Canada

Canadian Biodiversity Strategy

A Vision For Canada

Canadians are privileged to live in one of the largest and most beautiful countries in the world ­ a rich tapestry of landscapes and waterscapes ranging from arctic tundra and prairie grasslands to ancient temperate rainforests, the Great Lakes region, abundant fresh rivers, streams and ponds, and rocky coastal reefs, all supporting life of many descriptions. With this privilege comes the responsibility to care for this inheritance on behalf of the global community. By acting with wisdom and prudence today, we will leave to future generations a world in balance, capable of sustaining and enriching life.

Our Vision

A society that lives and develops as part of nature, values the diversity of life, takes no more than can be replenished and leaves to future generations a nurturing and dynamic world, rich in its biodiversity.

Guiding Principles

  • Biodiversity has ecological, economic, social, cultural and intrinsic values.
  • All life forms, including humans, are ultimately connected to all other life forms.
  • All Canadians depend on biodiversity and have a responsibility to contribute to biodiversity conservation and to use biological resources in a sustainable manner.
  • All Canadians should be encouraged to understand and appreciate the value of biodiversity and to participate in decisions involving the use of our air, water, land and other resources.
  • An ecological approach to resource management is central to conserving biodiversity and using our biological resources in a sustainable manner.
  • Development decisions must reflect ecological, economic, social and cultural values.
  • Healthy, evolving ecosystems and the maintenance of natural processes are prerequisites for the in situ conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of biological resources.
  • Ex situ measures may be required to support the conservation of some species and populations and are essential to ensuring the sustainable use of many agricultural, forest and aquatic resources.
  • The knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities should be respected, and their use and maintenance carried out with the support and involvement of these communities.
  • The conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of biological resources should be carried out using the best knowledge available and approaches refined as new knowledge is gained.
  • The conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of biological resources requires local, regional, provincial, territorial, national and global cooperation and a sharing of knowledge, costs and benefits.

The Use of Key Terms

Several explanations of terms are provided below to enhance the understanding of the directions contained in the Strategy. A more complete listing of definitions is contained in the Glossary.

The Convention does not define conservation. In the Strategy, conservation of biodiversity means managing human uses of the Earth's resources in order to maintain ecosystem, species and genetic diversity and the evolutionary and other processes that shaped them. Conservation includes the option to use resources. Conservation of biodiversity allows natural ecological processes such as evolutionary processes including extinction and speciation and maintains biological, chemical and physical processes and the natural species and genetic diversity that result from these processes. Changes to the composition and structure of ecosystems, the extinction of species and changes in the genetic diversity of any one species are natural processes which occur over time. It is not the intent of conservation to increase biodiversity through the release of alien organisms . Conservation of biodiversity requires us to eliminate or reduce adverse impacts to biodiversity that result from human activity.

In the Strategy, sustainable use is defined as "the use of components of biological diversity in a way and at a rate that does not lead to the long-term decline of biological diversity, thereby maintaining its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of present and future generations".

The Convention notes that "the fundamental requirement for the conservation of biological diversity is the in situ conservation of ecosystems and natural habitats and the maintenance and recovery of viable populations of species in their natural surroundings. " The Strategy emphasizes in situ conservation to allow evolutionary and other ecological processes to continue unimpaired. However, emphasis on in situ conservation is not intended to downplay the vital role of ex situ conservation . Ex situ conservation is defined in the Strategy as the conservation of components of biodiversity outside their natural habitats. In some circumstances, ex situ conservation offers the only chance of survival for some species-at-risk, and has an essential role to play in conserving economically valuable genetic resources, particularly for forest, aquatic and agricultural resources and the development of medicines.

Ecological management (sometimes called ecosystem management or an ecological approach to management) is essential to achieving the goals of the Strategy. It is defined in the Strategy as the management of human activities so that ecosystems, their structure, composition and function, and the processes that shaped them can continue at appropriate temporal and spatial scales. Ecological management requires an understanding of ecosystems and the impacts and implications of human activities. impacts and implications of human activities.