The Decline of Canadian Wildlife
by Jake M on October 5, 2017 - 5:41pm
The state of Canadian wildlife is called into question after an extensive study of species population was released, revealing unfortunate trends in our current biophysical environment. In the news article, “Half of Canada’s monitored wildlife is in decline, major study finds” (link below), released on September 15, 2017, author Ashifu Kassam discusses recent data findings of a 44 year study on 903 Canadian wildlife species. Kassam begins by stating the findings of this species study indicates approximately half of the 903 wildlife species observed have continuously declining populations and several of those are listed as endangered species. The main actors of this large scale wildlife decline are industrial development, farming/forestry practices and urban developments. Kassam also states the ongoing climate change and pollution levels are key contributors to this loss. The data came from 3700 populations of vertebrates from 1970-2014 spanning the country. Scientists concluded that the average population loss among declining species is approximately 83%. Not all data found has negative connotations as 407 species had a growth in population size which is argued to be related to the ban of harmful pesticides.
The purpose of Kassam’s article is to showcase the lack of results from the current wildlife protection policies of our governing bodies. In the second half of the article Kassam discusses the role of the federal government in preventing wildlife loss with input for World Wildlife Fund Canada member, James Snider. The article focuses on how the current legislation has failed to reduce wildlife loss because it is slow to implement strategies and policies related to habitat protection. The beluga whale population was considered a threatened species in 2005, the recovery strategy took seven years to develop and until 2016 for the habitats of belugas to be legally protected. Belugas are now listed as an endangered species. From this article it is evident that there is improper instruments being used to combat issues of species loss. As development intensifies and grows in all sectors it is detrimental that the federal government reacts accordingly and ensures the best possible measures are used in the protection of wildlife species. James Snider states a policy change is needed and I agree. The current institutional tools are too slow at creating positive impacts on the sustainability of Canadian wildlife. Some serious considerations and reforms need to be made and I feel that it can stem from the substantive policy instruments used by the federal government. To be more specific, regulatory and economic instruments can be used to deter potentially harmful projects and developments from disrupting important areas to wildlife species across Canada. Imposing regulations on land use is something that should become a more prominent focus to the federal government. Canada is the second largest (land mass) country with many areas of natural habitat but that can quickly diminish if development initiatives are given highest priority. This may impact developments but there will always be a new form that can adapt to strict regulations, the same cannot be said for the environment and its biodiversity, once it’s gone it’s gone. In a capitalist world, imposing economic instruments such as increased taxation on resource extraction could slow the amount being degraded because high taxes mean less profits and no business wants to make less money. This could lead to alternative measures to create income and development from less threatening practices. In summary, the evidence clearly shows Canadian wildlife is on a declining trend and the current federal legislation isn’t doing the proper job. Implementation of regulatory and economic instruments could slow the species losses and promote healthier practices of development and resource use.
Link to Kassam’s article: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/15/canada-wildlife-study-decline-living-planet-report