The ECO has reported extensively on biodiversity; all relevant articles are listed alphabetically in the bottom section of this page.
What is biodiversity?
Biological diversity or biodiversity can be understood simply as the variety of life on Earth. It is the variability of native species and the wealth of ecological systems, of which they are a part, forming a layer of life around the planet known as the biosphere. The biosphere has been described as uniting the innumerable plants, animals, and microbes physically and chemically with the atmosphere, geosphere and hydrosphere into one massive ecological system within which millions of species thrive.
Ontario’s biological diversity
Ontario is an ecologically diverse region of Canada, stretching from the northern Arctic tundra on the shores of Hudson Bay to the remnants of Carolinian forest bordering the southern Great Lakes. This extensive range of landforms and climates has created habitat for more than 2,900 species of vascular plants, 160 species of fish, 80 species of amphibians and reptiles, 400 species of birds and 85 species of mammals. This rich tapestry of life, including the diverse ecosystems and landscapes that support these species, forms the biological diversity of Ontario.
Threats to biodiversity
Humans are part of the natural environment, but we — as a species — are also causing significant damage to it. The loss of biodiversity is a global problem and it is acknowledged as one of the most critical environmental issues facing the planet. The most significant threats are habitat alteration and loss, climate change, invasive alien species, overexploitation, and pollution.
Biodiversity has intrinsic and inherent value. Yet, it also is the foundation upon which human well-being depends for the services that the natural environment provides. Biodiversity is inextricably linked with the quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink, the fertile soils we depend upon for our food, and the lands upon which we depend for our natural resources. Thought of another way, biodiversity is about our rivers and lakes, our forests and wetlands, the songbirds we see in our backyards, and even those animals, like woodland caribou or wolves, that live in remote wilderness areas.
The ECO’s reporting on biodiversity in Ontario
Beginning with our 2001/2002 Annual Report, the ECO began a concerted effort to highlight the conservation of Ontario’s biodiversity as a key issue. The ECO firmly believes that the conservation of biodiversity is one of the most pressing issues of our time and the Ontario government has the responsibility to take action. While the ECO has reported on many topics that affect Ontario’s biodiversity, the following articles chronologically follow the ECO’s commentary:
2013/2014 Annual Report
The ECO called for further action to address growing concerns about the negative impacts of certain pesticides on bees and other pollinators. We also reviewed the Ministry of Natural Resources' Taking a Broader Landscape Approach – A Policy Framework for Modernizing Ontario’s Approach to Natural Resource Management, noting that "a legitimate, broad-scale approach to natural resource management will require new monitoring programs and systems for collecting and sharing information."
Read the full article: Plight of the Pollinators
Read the full article: A Broad View Without Perspective: MNR's Landscape Approach
2012/2013 Annual Report
The ECO reviewed Biodiversity: It’s in Our Nature, Ontario Government Plan to Conserve Biodiversity 2012-2020, Ontario's biodiversity conservation plan. The ECO praised the plan, but recommended that each of the 16 ministries identified in the plan develop an implementation plan by 2014 in order to ensure that the actions and goals identified are fulfilled.
Read the full article: Ontario Government Plan to Conserve Biodiversity
2011/2012 Annual Report
The ECO reviewed the Ministry of Natural Resources' implementation of the Ecological Framework for Recreational Fisheries Management, stating that "MNR’s primary fisheries management objective should be to maintain, if not enhance, native fish populations and Ontario’s aquatic biodiversity."
Read the full article: A Fine Line: Implementing the Ecological Framework for Recreational Fisheries Management
2012 Special Report
In January 2012, the ECO released a special report to the legislature, Biodiversity: A Nation's Commitment, An Obligation for Ontario. This special report highlighted that the Government of Ontario no longer had a strategic plan to conserve the province's biodiversity. It also reported that, without such a commitment and plan, our province will be unable to meet our federal government's commitment to achieve the 20 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets agreed to by 193 countries in October 2010.
Read the full report: Biodiversity: A Nation's Commitment, An Obligation for Ontario
2010/2011 Annual Report
The ECO reviewed the Ministry of Natural Resources' Natural Heritage Reference Manual for Natural Heritage Polices of the Provincial Policy Statement, 2005. The ECO recommended that the MNR develop a coarse-scale, overarching natural heritage system for southern Ontario.
Read the full article: Connecting the Green Dots: The Natural Heritage Reference Manual
2009/2010 Annual Report
The ECO illustrated the links between climate change and biodiversity loss, warning that Ontario's ecology will be radically reshaped by the end of the 21st century. It also highlighted that Ontario's biodiversity strategy from 2005, itself a five-year plan, had expired and there was no commitment by the Ontario government to address this globally significant issue in the years ahead. The ECO formally recommended that the Ministry of Natural Resources lead the development of a new and reconceived biodiversity strategy for Ontario. Without question, it should specify target program areas, policies, and legislation that need revision across all of government to achieve its goals. The report observed that conserving biodiversity is indeed all of our responsibility, but the Ontario government itself must articulate how it will systematically respond to biodiversity loss in the province.
Read the full article: Climate Change and Biodiversity Turmoil
2008/2009 Annual Report
The ECO stressed that greater efforts were needed to conserve Ontario’s biodiversity. The ECO commented that there had been a distinct lack of new initiatives, beyond those that were announced in 2005 or earlier. In part, the ECO believes this inaction is attributable to insufficient allocation of funding and human resources; many of the small steps that the government has undertaken involve off-loading responsibilities to third-parties, such as non-governmental organizations or volunteer committees. In sum, the ECO was profoundly concerned about the lack of deliberate, systematic, and coordinated government action to conserve Ontario’s biological diversity.
Read the full article: Protecting Biodiversity: Ministries Stake Out Roles
2005/2006 Annual Report
The ECO provided a detailed review of Ontario’s Biodiversity Strategy which was released in 2005. The ECO commended MNR for at last acknowledging that conserving Ontario’s biodiversity is one of its prime responsibilities. However, the ECO warned that a successful biodiversity strategy should not attempt to be all things to all people: its first and foremost focus should be the conservation of biodiversity. The ECO also commented that the Ontario government must ensure that this new agenda delivers concrete actions that tangibly conserve the province’s biodiversity. Relegating this strategy to simple rhetoric would be a tragic loss.
Read the full article: Conserving Ontario's Biodiversity
2004/2005 Annual Report
MNR finally committed to developing a biodiversity strategy in 2004, releasing it a year later. This annual report previewed the strategy. The ECO provided a strong caution that a successful biodiversity strategy should clearly detail the responsibilities of all relevant ministries, describe decisive actions, contain quantifiable targets, and specify timelines for delivery. It also should target program areas, policies, and legislation that need revision to achieve its goals. In essence, a successful strategy should focus on the new things that need to be done, using an adaptive approach that makes biodiversity the priority.
Read the full article: Update on Ontario's Biodiversity Strategy
2002/2003 Annual Report
Building on the call for a provincial biodiversity strategy from the previous annual report, the ECO encouraged MNR to develop a series of integrated, province-wide strategies to address key biodiversity issues. These strategies should target specific areas in which action is required to conserve biodiversity, such as conserving protected areas and natural heritage features and functions, protecting species at risk, and addressing the threat of invasive species; this approach also allows for an efficient use of government resources. Again, MNR choose to take no action.
Read the full article: Creating a Biodiversity Framework for Ontario
2001/2002 Annual Report
The ECO recommended that the Ministry of Natural Resources develop a provincial biodiversity strategy in consultation with affected ministries, municipalities and stakeholders. Moreover, the ECO made the case that MNR should undertake a comprehensive assessment of Ontario’s current policies, regulations and Acts, and enact appropriate changes to conserve the province’s biodiversity. MNR responded that the ministry was not obligated to create a provincial biodiversity strategy, nor did it intend to.
Read the full article: Conserving Biodiversity in Ontario
This category has the following 7 subcategories, out of 7 total.
Pages in category "Biodiversity"
The following 69 pages are in this category, out of 69 total.