I spent my summers catching frogs with my sister on a small lake in Seguin, Ontario. We did other things too – like swim to the jumping rock and canoe to the island for overnight camping adventures. In the winters we skiied on the lake, marvelling at the giant icicles that formed on the rock faces.
I remember the lake teaming with life. Spring peepers announced that summer was almost upon us, crickets kept us up on those humid August nights, and the loons let us know that another day was over with their haunting calls. The sounds of nature were part of our days and nights but it’s become noticeably quieter over the years.
The United Nations just released a report on the state of biodiversity. The report lays bare the scale of loss of nature and the decline of our ecosystem services. Its conclusions are nothing short of devastating.
The report is full of sobering statistics.
450 scientists from over 50 countries agree that nature’s decline over the past 50 years is ‘unprecedented’ in human history, and list 1 million species at risk of extinction. Natural ecosystems have declined by 47%. 85% of our wetlands have been lost and more than 40% of amphibian species are threatened.
it’s our fault.
activity has significantly altered 75% of our terrestrial environment and 66%
of our marine environment. We have consumed our earth to the point of collapse.
government that is ‘open for business’ would do well to heed this report. Says
the Chair, Sir. Robert Watson, “We are eroding the very foundations of our
economies, livelihoods, food security, health, and quality of life worldwide.” And
yet our provincial government has proposed a drastic overhaul to Ontario’s
Endangered Species Act. Despite their claims to the contrary, these changes
will gut the already weakened protections for Ontario’s most vulnerable plants
and animals, giving industry and developers free reign to destroy habitat.
report suggests that only through ‘transformative change’ can nature be
recovered. That we need to remove the subsidies and incentives that are given
to the energy, industrial agricultural, fishing and forestry sectors, and
invest instead in protecting and restoring nature.
report also found that nature managed by Indigenous Peoples is declining less
rapidly. We need to engage with Indigenous communities, learn from their systems
of traditional knowledge and experience of being good stewards of the land.
I’m encouraged by the next generation of youth who are leading the charge for the positive change we need. Youth like members of Ontario Nature’s Youth Council who are leading conservation initiatives in their communities and who are deeply committed to living in more sustainable ways. Inspirational rebels like Greta Thunberg, who has ignited a movement that demands actions to reverse the climate crisis we’ve created.
also believe that we need to support a robust and independent third sector.
Charities, community organisations and not-for-profits that provide vital
research, sound the alarm and rally local action when our government drops the
ball on the things that we love and don’t want to lose.
still have time to act but it’s got to be swift. As Greta says, “I want you to
act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire.
Because it is.”
What can you do right now?
Send a letter to the editor or op-ed to your local media expressing your concerns.
Become a monthly donor with Ontario Nature or another favourite environmental organization working to protect nature and biodiversity.
Kirsten Dahl is Ontario Nature's Director of Development and a Friend of Nature monthly donor. She loves cross-country skiing in Algonquin Park, cycling through the wilds of Toronto and any chance to explore Ontario Nature’s nature reserves.