Tropics in Trouble: Nova Scotia conservation group calls on Ottawa to protect tropical nature
HALIFAX -- As the founding director of the International Conservation Fund of Canada, Anne Lambert has been analyzing Canada's commitment to conservation aid abroad.
"The figures were actually worse than we expected," Lambert told CTV Atlantic in a recent interview.
The newly released report from the Nova Scotia-based conservation group found Canada is falling behind other wealthy nations when it comes to paying its part to save tropical nature.
"The years 2016 to 2018, Canada contributed annually an average of $10 million in bilateral official development assistance for biodiversity," Lambert said. "That compares with France and Germany who spent more than $1 billion per year."
This comes on the heels of UN reports of massive biodiversity loss. In 2010, more than 150 countries agreed to goals to protect nature, but the new United Nations scorecard found that the world has largely failed to meet 20 different targets to safeguard species and ecosystems.
Yet, our global ecosystems – like tropical rainforests – are essential to life on Earth. It begs the question of whether Canada should be prioritizing conservation efforts abroad, or at home.
"Over the last 50 years, Canada and the United States have lost 2.9 billion birds," said Andrew Holland with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. "We have to do more land conservation in Atlantic Canada to protect land habitats or species at risk."
Kerry Bowman, a medical bioethicist and professor with the University of Toronto, says the pandemic illustrates a link between emerging human diseases and the invasion of natural habitats.
"This coronavirus is zoonotic which means it came from animals," Bowman said. "As we lose forests and species, our risks of further pandemics are rising."
Bowman adds ending tropical deforestation is crucial for limiting climate change as well as reducing the risk of new deadly pandemics.
"With the decimation of forests, we're increasing our chances for pandemic and outbreaks," Bowman said.
From out of control wildfires in Brazil, to the mass extinction of species around the world, Lambert says these disasters have human repercussions.
"The world's natural ecosystems are all interconnected," Lambert said. "If we care about addressing the extinction crisis, we can't only act in Canada."
ICFCanada recommends Canada match or exceed other top donors by increasing Canadian funds for international conservation to at least $650 million per year.