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Maintaining Fully-Functioning Ecosystems

The problem: Ecosystems and wildlife in Canada face severe threats. In the south, where the human population is high, wildlife habitat is fragmented by a dense road network, urban sprawl, and agricultural and industrial (logging, mining, and energy) development. Watersheds have been heavily impacted by dams, loss of wetlands, and pollution from industrial, agricultural and urban sources. Parks and other protected areas are usually too small and disconnected to maintain ecosystem function. Species at risk are inadequately protected. Increasingly, northern ecosystems and wildlife are also facing grave threats - from mega projects related to energy, mining and forestry, and the associated infrastructure of access roads, transmission lines and pipelines. In many cases these projects affect vast areas that were previously wilderness. Current Environmental Assessment processes are of little use in assessing their impact because they are usually run by the proponents and public consultations are inadequate. In addition, the effects of climate change are expected to be dramatic across the country in the near future.

What needs to change: Comprehensive federal and provincial Conservation Strategies must be developed and implemented. Existing parks and other protected areas must be managed based on ecological principles and using a “greater park ecosystem” approach. New large parks must be created to protect core natural areas. Ecological connections across the landscape between core protected areas must be identified, and maintained or restored.  New and upgraded roads and dams must be designed to permit safe passage of wildlife. Habitat for species at risk must be protected and restored. There is an urgent need for Environmental Assessments that truly assess the effects of development proposals. Projects that pose serious risks to ecosystems and wildlife or lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions must be rejected.

                  Parks and Protected Areas,
                  Road Ecology.
Canadian Ecosystems Alliance submissions.