New report highlights threats to uniquely Canadian plants and animals
“The consequence of our failure to protect these endemic species is extinction.”
Canada is home to over 300 different plant and animal species that live nowhere else on Earth. Unfortunately, the first comprehensive survey of these uniquely Canadian species shows that many could be vulnerable to extinction.
These are the findings of a new report by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and NatureServe Canada. Entitled Ours to save: The distribution, status and conservation needs of Canada’s national endemic species, the report will be released to mark Canadian Environment Week. To see the report and associated maps, visit www.natureconservancy.ca/ourstosave.
The organizations collaborated with experts across the country to catalogue Canada’s own species. It is being called a critical step in stemming global biodiversity loss.
The report identifies 308 plant and animal species, subspecies and varieties that are endemic to Canada, meaning they are only found here. Many are already at risk nationally and of global conservation concern. Identifying these species and the places where they live is an essential effort in protecting them from extinction. Mammals listed include eastern wolf, which lives in Algonquin Park, and the high Arctic’s Peary caribou. Birds include a unique subspecies of northern saw-whet owl that lives in BC and Harris's sparrow, the only songbird that breeds exclusively in Canada. Invertebrates, such as the tiny Maritime ringlet butterfly, make up almost half of the species listed in the report. A variety of flowering plants are also included, such as Gulf of St. Lawrence aster and Lake Louise arnica.
The highest numbers of plants and animals that are unique to Canada are found in British Columbia, Quebec, Alberta and Yukon. The report also identifies 27 key concentrations of endemic species that occur in every province and territory, including within the Avalon Peninsula (NL), north shore of Prince Edward Island, St. Lawrence River Freshwater Estuary, Waterton, Vancouver Island and the Mackenzie Delta. Most of these species need more conservation efforts.
The results of this report will be used by NCC and other groups, individuals and landowners to prioritize conservation actions and to inspire public support for species and habitat protection in Canada.
“No other nation can protect this group of all-Canadian species. Their conservation is completely up to Canadians. Protecting these species is Canada’s priority in the fight against global biodiversity loss. The consequence of our failure to conserve them is their extinction.” - Dan Kraus, senior conservation biologist, Nature Conservancy of Canada
“Many of Canada’s national endemic species have restricted ranges, which makes them particularly vulnerable to habitat loss, climate change and invasive species. This report provides decision-makers with critical information in understanding where conservation investments could be directed in order to safeguard these uniquely Canadian species.” - Patrick Henry, executive director, NatureServe Canada
Provincial breakdown of Canada’s endemic species:
- British Columbia: 105
- Quebec: 57
- Alberta: 54
- Yukon: 43
- Newfoundland and Labrador 40
- Saskatchewan: 36
- Northwest Territories: 32
- Manitoba: 31
- Nunavut: 29
- Nova Scotia: 28
- Ontario: 28
- New Brunswick: 17
- Prince Edward Island: 7
Images of various endemic species can be found at www.natureconservancy.ca/ourstosave.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation's leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect 14 million hectares (35 million acres), coast to coast to coast. To learn more, visit www.natureconservancy.ca.
NatureServe Canada functions as a network of provincial and territorial Conservation Data Centres (CDCs) to develop, manage and distribute authoritative information critical to the conservation of Canada’s biodiversity. Data held by NatureServe Canada are widely used by federal and provincial agencies, private industry, researchers and conservation organizations to improve the management, use and conservation of biological resources in Canada. To learn more, visit www.natureserve.ca.
- 30 -