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Pilosocereus leucocephalus.
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Gilles Murray)

With increased public awareness of the intrinsic importance of biodiversity and of its critical role in the function of ecosystems and in considerations related to sustainable development, there should be greater public support for regulatory measures and concrete action at all levels. This encompasses a wide array of initiatives from those developed under the UN Convention for Biological Diversity and other international efforts to small-scale local biodiversity preservation projects. This also includes individual efforts to reduce our personal environmental footprint (eating locally and lower down the food chain, rethinking our consumption habits, greening our surroundings, recycling, composting, etc.) and goes hand in hand with a greater appreciation and understanding of the natural world.

Supporting the efforts of the scientific community

Of course we cannot address the “what can we do?” question without mentioning the importance of supporting the efforts of the scientific community to 1) inventory existing biodiversity and preserve specimens, seeds, genetic material, etc, for the future; 2) monitor and model biodiversity losses (and recoveries); and 3) provide the knowledge and data to support and guide effective decision-making for the sustainable use of land and resources.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

In 2002, the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) committed themselves to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level. Although certain of the targeted objectives were met, such as an increase in the proportion of protected areas or a decrease in the threat of extinction of some species, the recent 2010 Global Biodiversity Outlook synthesis report by the Secretariat of the CBD notes a collective international failure in attaining a reduction in biodiversity loss as measured by most indicators. Fortunately, the recent Biodiversity Summit held in Nagoya, Japan in October 2010, resulted in the adoption of a new ten year Strategic Plan to guide international and national efforts to save biodiversity with a commitment to substantially increase current levels of development assistance in support of biodiversity and in a new international protocol on access and benefit sharing of the genetic resources of the planet.

Strategy of the Government of Canada

For its part, the Government of Canada has signed the international agreements on biodiversity and developed its own Strategy in this area. In 2010 a federal, provincial and territorial working group on biodiversity launched a website for disseminating biodiversity information, news and events. This website reflects Canada’s commitment to achieve the goals and objectives of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity through a collaborative approach. Canada participates in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility (CBIF). However, Canada has not yet developed a comprehensive and integrated approach to the study and conservation of biodiversity. Many gaps exist in the data which remain scattered and often unavailable or inaccessible. A major objective of the Biodiversity Centre, through the Canadensys network, is to address these issues collaboratively with CBIF.

Government Sustainable Development Strategy

In its Government Sustainable Development Strategy 2008-2013, the Government of Québec emphasizes the importance of developing and disseminating biodiversity knowledge for achieving its objectives. It also promotes citizen commitment and responsible action in this area. These aspects of the Strategy mirror perfectly the priorities of the Biodiversity Centre.

Actions of the City of Montreal

Locally, the City of Montreal has set aside a substantial amount of natural areas in the form of 17 large parks, with conservation, recreation and public awareness mandates. In its Sustainable Development Plan 2010-2015, the city is undertaking, amongst other actions, an expansion of its green cover surface from about 20% to 25% and is encouraging businesses, borough administrations and citizens to carry out greening and biodiversity preservation projects of their own.

Of course, the City’s commitment to biodiversity is also evident in its support of the Space for Life grouping of nature museums, comprising the Montréal Botanical Garden and Insectarium, which are primary partners of the Biodiversity Centre, as well as the Biodôme and the Planetarium.

Learn more about the actions of the City of Montréal

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 These texts have been provided by the Université de Montréal Biodiversity Centre.

Downloadable documents

Canadian biodiversity strategy[PDF - 217.66 KB - 86 pages]

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