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Canadian Biodiversity Strategy

GOAL 1 - Conservation and Sustainable Use

A. Wild Flora and Fauna and Other Wild Organisms

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.

Wild flora and fauna and other wild organisms refers to any wild and native species, including mammals, birds, fishes, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, plants, fungi, algae, bacteria, viruses, protozoa and other organisms.

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 Peregrine Falcon

As pesticide use increased in the years following World War II, populations of Peregrine Falcons declined in Canada and the United States. In southern Canada, the species all but disappeared from its former range. More recently, however, conservation efforts have brought the Peregrine back from the brink of extinction. In 1992, the subspecies tundrius was downlisted from threatened to vulnerable. Since 1976, over 1,200 birds of the anatum subspecies have been successfully raised in captivity and released in the wild. Positive results from these recovery efforts make wildlife officials optimistic that a population survey of anatum subspecies planned for 1995 may result in a change in status from endangered to threatened.

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.

Economic Impacts of Fish-and Wildlife-Related Activities in Canada

  • In 1991, nearly 19 million Canadians spent $5.6 billion pursuing wild floral- and faunal-related activities such as wildlife photography, birdwatching, hunting and fishing. This shows a 33% increase in expenditures since 1981.
  • In addition, about 1.8 million tourists from the United States travelled to Canada to take part in these activities. They spent an estimated $800 million.

Survey of the Importance of Wildlife to Canadians, 1991

Strategic Directions

  1. Use ecological planning and management approaches with more emphasis on landscape/waterscape-level planning to integrate economic and social objectives with biodiversity conservation objectives.
  2. Conserve ecosystems and critical habitats to support populations of wild flora and fauna and other wild organisms.
  3. Through research, increase our understanding of the status, genetic diversity and ecological relationships of species and populations to improve ecological planning and management.
  4. Ensure that the harvest of wild flora and fauna and other wild organisms is sustainable and minimize adverse impacts of harvesting on non-target species.
  5. Re-connect fragmented ecosystems where practical and necessary, providing corridors and protecting habitats for isolated species or populations.
  6. Modify or eliminate elements of government policies and programs that create unintentional adverse impacts on wild flora and fauna and other wild organisms on private and public property.
  7. Strengthen measures to reduce and eliminate the release of substances, or quantities of substances, that are harmful to ecosystem, species and genetic resources.
  8. Ensure that both economic and ecological factors are considered in designating pests and in implementing pest management strategies.
  9. Develop indicators to monitor trends and support the management of wild populations, species, habitats and ecosystems.
  10. Maintain or improve measures that prevent in situ populations from becoming jeopardized by specimen collecting for ex situ conservation and other purposes. (When only a single population of a species exists and it is in a highly endangered state, it may be necessary to move all of its members to ex situ conservation facilities in order to build up its numbers and eventually re-establish in situ populations).
  11. Foster the participation of non-government ex situ conservation experts and institutions in in situ conservation efforts, and improve the participation of government agencies in non-government ex situ conservation efforts.
  12. Implement mechanisms to conserve and use in a sustainable manner transboundary native wild populations, species, habitats and ecosystems in cooperation with other countries and organizations.

Establishment of Protected Areas

Article 8:

  1. Establish protected areas to conserve biodiversity.
  2. Develop guidelines for the selection, establishment and management of those protected areas.

Convention on Biological Diversity