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Pathway to Canada Target 1, biodiversity, conservation, 2020, Canadian,  17% of Canada's terrestrial and freshwater area

Biodiversity - or biological diversity - is a term used to describe the variety of life on Earth. It refers to the number, variety and variability of living organisms (animals, plants, fungi, microbes, etc.), the genetic differences among them, and the ecosystems in which they occur.
— World Commission on Protected Areas

Canadian biodiversity needs your help

Canada is one of very few countries on the planet with sufficient natural spaces left to allow us to become a world leader in conservation. In fact, Canadians have an opportunity to build a natural legacy in which the right places are conserved in the right way in a coordinated network of parks and conservation areas throughout the country, so that our biodiversity will be conserved for generations to come.

Canada's natural spaces are a vital component of our culture, heritage, economy and our future. Approximately 30% of the world's boreal forest, 20% of the world's freshwater resources, the world's longest coastline and one of the world's largest marine territories are ours to enjoy, protect and share. Canada's natural areas include critical habitat for species at risk on land and at sea, thousands of lakes and rivers that provide safe drinking water and energy, and forests and wetlands that store greenhouse gases, produce oxygen and regulate flooding.

 Provincial Recreation Area, photo: Evan Thomas ©Alberta Parks

Provincial Recreation Area, photo: Evan Thomas ©Alberta Parks

Canada's Target 1

Recognizing that protected and conservation areas are the cornerstones of any effort to conserve biodiversity, Target 1 of 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets for Canada states that:

"By 2020, at least 17% of terrestrial areas and inland water, and 10% of coastal and marine areas, are conserved through networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures."


Canada currently protects 10.6% of its land and inland waters

The International Union for Conservation of Nature defines a protected area as “a clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.”

At the end of 2015, 10.6% (1.05 million square kilometres) of Canada's terrestrial area was recognized as protected. These protected areas have been established nation-wide and can be found in every province and territory.

Click to expand - map of Canada's protected areas (2015) 

 Polar bears, Photo: Wayne Lynch © Parks Canada

Polar bears, Photo: Wayne Lynch © Parks Canada

A pathway to meet the national target of protecting 17% of land and inland waters

On April 11, 2016, federal, provincial, and territorial deputy ministers responsible for parks agreed to establish a National Steering Committee to develop a pathway that will outline how jurisdictions could contribute to conserving at least 17% of Canada’s terrestrial and inland water areas by 2020, along with guidance recommending best practices and indicators for measuring progress towards implementing the elements of Canada Target 1 that address the quality of protected area networks. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is coordinating efforts to achieve the marine component of the Target 1.

The Pathway to Canada Target 1 website is supported by the Canadian Parks Council