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Canada's 'mediocre' conservation programs singled out after release of UN report showing natural world is facing disaster

A new UN report has warned that the natural world is declining at a disastrous rate, with more than a million species threatened with extinction.

The study, by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, warns that the planet’s seas, land and air are being destroyed by human activity.

One of the authors, Kai Chan from the University of British Columbia, also specifically warned Canada about its ‘mediocre’ conservation programs.

He said that the report has a strong lesson for Canada’s current fights over carbon taxes and environmental assessments.

<who> Photo credit: UN/Shutterstock

The report, Chan added, shows Canada must start thinking long-term about the development of its resources and how that affects everything from killer whales to clean water.

“The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture,” said the IPBES chairman, Sir Robert Watson.

“The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

Sir Robert added that the natural world can still be saved with “transformative change” – that is, “a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.”

Among the study’s finding are that:

  • The abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has declined by at least 20% since 1900

  • That includes more than 40% of amphibian species and over a third of marine mammals

  • Three-quarters of all land environments and 66% of marine environments have been “significantly” altered by humans

  • Over a third of the world’s land and 75% of its fresh water are devoted to crops or livestock

  • Urban areas have more than doubled since 1992

“Ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing,” Prof. Josef Settele said.

“The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed. This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.”

With files from the Canadian Press




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