To recover better we must restore nature

Maya Haga/Birds Canada/Tristan Blaine

Tell government endangered species need a place to live

As we recover from COVID-19, habitat restoration must be a part of building a better future for all. We rely on nature for joy, sustenance and improved health.

Besides COVID-19, we’re also in the midst of mass extinction and climate crises. Species like boreal woodland caribou, chestnut-collared longspur and eelgrass are imperilled. Habitat loss is behind the decline of almost all Canada’s at-risk species and none can speak up to protect their homes. The best way to help these species survive is to restore their habitats across provinces. Ask your premier to act against extinction.

Habitat loss and degradation are the primary drivers of wildlife decline provincially, nationally and globally.

Boreal woodland caribou is endemic to Canada, residing in the boreal forest region of seven provinces and two territories, and distributed across 51 local populations, also known as “ranges.” The species is the foundation for the survival and well-being of many Indigenous Peoples on their traditional territory.

To survive, boreal woodland caribou need a minimum of 65 per cent of their range undisturbed by roads, fires and industrial activity. Not one caribou range in Alberta has sufficient habitat to support survival.

Chestnut-collared longspur lost most of its habitat by the 1990s. Its numbers declined in concert with the disappearing native grasslands in which the birds nest (especially in Saskatchewan), so land use change is especially detrimental to this species. The birds don’t normally nest on cultivated land, so they’re rare or absent in crops. To help recover them, we need to support restoration initiatives to enlarge existing habitat remnants, make linkages and create new habitat.

Eelgrass is a flowering plant that grows in coastal areas where it can form extensive meadows that provide habitat and refuge for a large diversity of species, including juvenile Chinook salmon, herring and Dungeness crab.

Eelgrass is a traditional food source for some coastal First Nations. Eighty per cent of commercially important fish and shellfish depend on eelgrass at some point in their life cycles.

Eelgrass provide important ecosystem services for communities. It removes and stores pollutants, stabilizes shorelines, and protects coastal regions from flood and sea level rise. It also produces oxygen and stores excess atmospheric carbon dioxide. Replicating these services through engineered infrastructure would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.