The first element of the ecological management approach is to maintain populations of wild and native flora and fauna and other wild organisms, in their functioning ecosystems, landscapes and waterscapes. Results of conservation biology research indicate that the key to conserving species is to maintain viable populations across their natural geographic range.
Many policies and programs have been developed and are being implemented to manage ecosystems and species. In 1990, A Wildlife Policy for Canada was released by the Wildlife Ministers' Council of Canada. The goal of this policy is to maintain and enhance the health and diversity of wild flora and fauna and other wild organisms , both for their own sake and for the benefit of present and future generations.
Numerous programs are currently being implemented to maintain or restore populations of wild flora and fauna and other wild organisms. These include programs to manage species or populations that are harvested for commercial, subsistence and recreation programs, as well as those that are not used for consumptive purposes. Many of these programs have been very successful in ensuring the sustainable use of biological resources.
Communities have relied on wild flora and fauna and other wild organisms for food, shelter, clothing, employment, income and spiritual purposes for centuries. Today, individuals and communities continue to value wild flora and fauna and other wild organisms for the ecological, economic, social and cultural benefits they provide.
The ecological roles and economic importance of many plants, invertebrates, micro-organisms , fungi and other wild organisms are not fully understood. These lifeforms create and maintain soil, recycle nutrients and play a critical role in maintaining the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide that affect climate and rainfall patterns. Wild flora and fauna and other wild organisms, and the ecological services they perform, have made it possible for humans to exist on Earth. In economic terms, ecosystem functions or services provide the foundation for economic activities that generate billions of dollars.
In addition to ecosystem services, uses of wild flora and fauna and other wild organisms make a significant contribution to our economy. Millions of people spend billions of dollars participating in activities such as fishing, hiking, bird-watching, hunting and photography.
Wild floral and faunal resources are also valued for cultural or spiritual reasons. These values are difficult to describe in monetary terms, but they are real values contributing to the health and enjoyment of millions of people.
As a result of effective resource management, many populations of wild flora and fauna and other wild organisms are sustainable. However, some populations are declining, largely as a result of habitat loss or deterioration. For example, several species of waterfowl have seriously declined in number in the past 20 years as a result of lost nesting cover, drainage of wetlands, and habitat modification along migration routes. Over-harvesting and poaching have also contributed to the decline of some species. Despite many examples of good resource management, there are still many species-at-risk in Canada.