Wildlife Protection Assessment
On Earth Day 2019, WWF-Canada launched a nation-wide assessment mapping gaps in essential wildlife habitat protection areas that were also unprotected carbon sinks, which are natural areas like forests, wetlands and grasslands that absorb and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
It may not sound like a win to find out that 84 per cent of habitats with high concentrations of at-risk species are inadequately or not at all protected. Or that 77 per cent of habitats with high levels of soil carbon and 74 per cent of habitats with high levels of forest biomass similarly lack protections.
But given the scale of the dual crises we’re facing with biodiversity loss and climate change, the WPA provides vital scientific data to inform decision-making so we can now maximize protection efforts to defend species and attack global warming using nature-based solutions.
Protecting that Last Ice Area
In August, following a decade of WWF-Canada’s science-based advocacy efforts, plans finally moved forward to protect Tuvaijuittuq, which means “the ice never melts” in Inuktitut. Part of a polar region that we coined the Last Ice Area — this is where scientists project summer sea ice will persist the longest in our warming world — Tuvaijuittuq is a Germany-sized section of the Canadian High Arctic that can now provide a climate refuge for ice-dependent species and the communities that rely on them.
As well as contributing to the underlying science, we supported the Qikiqtani Inuit Association’s negotiations with the governments of Canada and Nunavut. The result was that this 322,000 sq. km interim Marine Protected Area was declared along with an impact benefit agreement that ensures Nunavut communities benefit culturally and economically.
Oh, and at the same time nearby Tallurutiup Imanga, formerly known as Lancaster Sound, received permanent MPA status, adding another 108,000 sq. km of protected Arctic area.
Improving Marine Protected Areas
In April, the federal government announced a ban on oil and gas exploration, mining, dumping and bottom trawling in federal marine protected areas. In 2017, WWF-Canada had launched a public campaign to protect the Laurentian Channel from oil and gas activities. This past summer, Canadians mobilized once again to ask that all MPAs be exempted from oil and gas activities.
Thanks in large part to the letter-writing advocacy of our amazing supporters, it worked! And then, for good measure, we also found out that the Tuvaijuittuq MPA is so massive that it helped Canada exceed its 10 per cent commitment — we have now officially protected 13.82 per cent of our marine areas!
Western Mariner’s Guide
Following the success of our 2018 Eastern Mariner’s Guide, this past September, we released a new guide with the Inuvialuit Game Council. Now, ship captains have vital information on how to strategically avoid harming marine mammals and their habitats in the sensitive western Arctic.
The guide used traditional knowledge and community conservation plans from the Inuvialuit Settlement Region to ensure that shipping doesn’t harm wildlife or interfere with harvesting activities as vessel traffic increases.
Biopolis seed bombs
In May 2019, Biopolis held its first mini-“BioBlitz” in Montreal’s Jarry Park to introduce the community to citizen science and raise awareness around urban wildlife living right in their neighbourhood. Supporters were keen to get their hands dirty, evaluating micro-fauna in the park soil, analyzing lichen living on tree bark and studying insects and other wildlife found in Jarry’s artificial pond.
The participants created 1,000 seed bombs with native pollinator-friendly seeds to help bring back nature in Montreal. The seed bombs are made of organic potting soil mixed with compost, red clay powder, a little bit of water, and seeds from various types of milkweed, white yarrow, anise hyssop, New-England aster and oxeye sunflower. These little balls resembling chocolate truffles can be thrown in backyards, gardens, vacant lots, green alleyways, or any area where nature could use some help.
Generation Water Tech Challenge
Helping wild rivers stay that way
This action prioritizes rivers of significant ecological and cultural value and is a step forward towards safeguarding these national treasures and vital sources of freshwater for wildlife and people.
The salmon came back
Working with the Department of Fisheries and Ocean, Katzie members removed in-stream barriers caused by a recent landslide and reinforced the banks. A raised bank was also constructed to prevent flooding and protect the newly restored Chinook habitat. The site visit in August revealed salmon nests and about forty to fifty Chinook actively spawning in the restored area!
Wait, we cleaned up how much on shorelines?
WWF strikes back
Our science-based organization rarely takes to the streets, but on September 27 we joined the Global Climate Strike, which saw 7.6 million people from 150 countries protesting in over 2,000 towns and cities.
WWF-Canada staff marched everywhere we have offices — including Panda mascots protesting with us in Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and St. John’s — to support Canada’s students, mobilize our supporters, demand climate action from governments, and spread the word about nature-based solutions to the climate crisis.
As those of you who joined us know, the climate strike was an incredibly inspiring day. But going into the new year, we must all continue building momentum around the urgency to act.