A Heads Up to Niagara citizens fighting for the future of Thundering Waters and for what is left of our forests and wetlands in this region

A Feature Story on how Canada is falling behind other nations on protecting biodiversity

A Brief One from Doug Draper, environment writer/publisher, Niagara At Large

Posted July 24th, 2017 on Niagara At Large

For those of us fighting to keep developers and their political allies in Niagara from moving forward with an urban development plan in Niagara Falls’ Thundering Waters Forest and from gutting ever more of what little we have left of our natural heritage in this region, Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail has a front-page story this July 24th that is a must read.

A look at just a piece of the provincially significant wetlands under the canopy of the Thundering Waters Forest in Niagara Falls, Ontario

The story, headlined; ‘Canada Lags on Biodiversity Pledges – The country ranks far behind g7 counterparts and other industrialized nations in meeting commitments to protect its lands and fresh waters’, notes that “Canada has 20 per cent of the Earth’s forests and 24 per cent of its wetlands, but has done far less than many other countries when it comes to putting areas beyond the reach of development,” says the Globe story.

“Protection of lands and waters is critical for our survival,” Éric Hébert-Daly, national executive director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is quoted saying in the story.

“We’re a part of nature and, if nature is not protected around us, things like clean water and clean air and things we rely on for the survival of the human species, as well as every other species on Earth, is undermined,” Mr. Hébert-Daly said. “So protected areas are the linchpin in our survival and the survival of the planet.”

Read this story and think about the ‘we-have-to-balance-away-more-of-our watershed-for-development’ politicians we in Niagara have sitting on the poor excuse for a Conservation Authority the Ontaro government has, for no reason that has anything to do with a true commitment to conservation, saddled us with in this region.

Think about the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s board chair – Fort Erie regional councillor Sandy ‘we are not an environmental protection agency’ Annunziata – and his shot at a Niagara area MPP, Cindy Forster, earlier this year for “pandering to one special interest group, and only one.”

That “special interest group,” as Forster herself noted in response, happens to be citizens in the Niagara area who have contacted her out of concern that the current board of the NPCA is not as focused on conservation as they believe it should be.

Let’s hope that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and her government also gives the front-page story in The Globe and Mail a read, and finally pays some heed to calls from Niagara citizens for protecting what provincially significant wetlands and forested areas we have left in this region.

And while you are at it Madam Premier, please use the authority you have to appoint a special supervisor to come in and rebuilt the Conservation Authority we deserve and need in Niagara.

I am certain that your government’s intervention in this matter would receive widespread praise and help restore public faith in your government’s pledge to be a protector of the environment.

To read entire Globe and Mail story, click on – https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canada-lagging-behind-on-commitment-to-protect-lands-and-fresh-water-reportsays/article35779173/

Here is a July 19th, 2017 media release on the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society report –

OTTAWA – In its latest annual report on the state of protected areas in Canada, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is calling Canada out for ranking last among G7 countries in the percentage of land and freshwater protected for nature. CPAWS’ 2017 report “From Laggard to Leader? Canada’s renewed focus on protecting nature could deliver results,” encourages federal, provincial, and territorial governments to step up their protection efforts in order to conserve Canada’s natural heritage, and deliver on our international commitment.

With only 10.6% of its landscape currently protected, Canada lags behind the global average of 15%, and also trails other large countries such as China, Brazil, and Australia. In 2010, as part of a worldwide effort to stem the tide of biodiversity loss, Canada committed under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity to protecting at least 17% of land and inland waters by 2020 and improving the quality of their protected area systems to more effectively conserve nature.

The report highlights that Canadian governments are finally starting to take this commitment seriously after years of inaction. In February 2017, federal, provincial and territorial Ministers responsible for parks and protected areas publicly announced their commitment to work together to achieve this target.  A new Pathway to 2020 process was initiated, and an Indigenous Circle of Experts and National Advisory Panel appointed to advise Ministers on this work.

“In many ways, we have taken nature for granted in this country, but there is hope,” says Éric Hébert-Daly, National Executive Director at CPAWS. “As we start down this new collaborative path of protecting more of our landscape, we need to focus not only on meeting the 2020 target, but also on the longer-term goal of completing a protected areas network that will effectively safeguard wildlife and wild spaces for generations to come.”

The report also highlights the opportunity to protect land through nation-to-nation and Inuit-to-Crown relationships and partnerships between Indigenous peoples and federal, provincial and territorial governments. From the proposed Thaidene Nene national and territorial parks in the Northwest Territories, to watershed declarations in northern Ontario, there are many examples across the country where Indigenous peoples are leading efforts to protect land to safeguard ecological and cultural values.

“With less than 3 years to fulfill our 2020 commitment, we need to get going now,” adds Hébert-Daly. “In the report we identify places across Canada where a considerable amount of work has already been done on proposed protected areas. By acting now to permanently protect these sites, while also planning for what’s needed to conserve nature in the long term, Canada has a chance to move from laggard to leader.”

Canada is the second largest country in the world, and stewards of 20% of the Earth’s wild forests, 24% of its wetland, and almost one third of its land-stored carbon. Yet, despite our large areas of wilderness, all of Canada’s ecosystems are declining in health and the number of species at risk of extinction continues to grow each year.

Protected areas are important to conserve wildlife and wilderness, as well as provide clean air and water for all Canadians, store carbon, and play a major role in improving our health and well-being. They also make economic sense. Protected areas around the world generate US$600 billion per year in direct spending, while costing less than US$10 billion per year to manage.

For over 50 years, CPAWS has been working with all levels of government, and other partners across the country to protect more of Canada’s public lands. As the only nationwide charity dedicated to the protection of our public lands and water, we are uniquely positioned to help governments protect what nature really needs.

To read more, click on the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s website athttp://cpaws.org/news/canada-lags-the-world-in-land-protection-but-improved-performance-possible .

Read Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s declaration that the NPCA is “not an environmental protection agency” by clicking on the following storyhttps://www.niagarathisweek.com/news-story/7388863-chair-paints-a-pared-back-picture-of-npca-s-role/ .

To read a statement from NPCA chair Sandy Annunsiata, featuring his ‘pandering to special interest group’ comment, click onhttps://npca.ca/news/statement-npca-chair-sandy-annunziata .

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space below the Bernie quote.

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater binational Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders



2 responses to “A Heads Up to Niagara citizens fighting for the future of Thundering Waters and for what is left of our forests and wetlands in this region

  1. Well said Doug, well said.


  2. Thank you Doug for keeping this “top of mind” for your readers – it is so important as well as the links you have provided.
    I feel some concern that “A national advisory panel has been created to provide governments with advice, based on science and traditional knowledge, on how Canada can achieve its target and must report back later this year. In addition, an Indigenous Circle of Experts has been set up to provide expert advice on biodiversity conservation.”
    It is a “concern” because I have to wonder why another “advisory panel” is necessary. It may well be valuable but is it also a means to delay and defer any meaningful, real action???


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