The Tri-Cities are full of nature lovers. Many of us choose to live here to appreciate and enjoy our many natural areas, green spaces, scenic surroundings and the healthy environment.
And it’s not enough to just be a nature lover anymore; if we want to save it, we must be nature defenders, too.
A landmark United Nations report in May concluded that one million species worldwide are at risk of extinction. In Canada, more than 600 species are listed as at-risk from extinction. In September, a study published in Science estimated one in four birds in North America has disappeared over the past four decades, which amounts to three billion missing birds.
The number one cause of population declines in vulnerable species is habitat loss. It’s all evidence that, as human beings, we’ve taken and used too much — particularly our natural resources — and we haven’t left enough room for nature.
Unless we change our course, this current trend will have real consequences for wildlife and humans.
Fortunately, we know the solution and we’re on the path to change. In 2011, Canada agreed to protect 17% of land and freshwater, and 10% of oceans by 2020 as part of an international pact to conserve nature.
So far, the federal government has exceeded the ocean target and is approaching the land target. Even better, after last fall's federal election, the Canadian government agreed to new targets: 25% by 2025 and 30% in 2030.
Meeting that target would be the biggest shift in the history of Canadian conservation. It won’t happen without ordinary Canadians, in every town and city across the country, demanding action.
Burke Mountain Naturalists are joining other nature groups from across the country to ask for action from those who represent us. That is why delegates from BMN met with MP Ron McKinnon Jan. 24 to say that it is very important to our organization, and many citizens in the Tri-Cities, to expand protected areas in Canada to safeguard wildlife, fight climate change and ensure access to nature for future generations. MP McKinnon agreed that these bold commitments made by the federal government are important and he will be supporting that the government make nature conservation be among the up-coming budget priorities.
In and around the Tri-Cities, we get to experience the joys of nature first-hand right in our backyard. Whether you like to experience the wonders of our local trails and nature areas or observe wildlife, we all have a responsibility to protect natural places.
We must stand together, as nature lovers and nature defenders, and ask the government to make room for nature.
Christina Saremba, Conservation Committee, Burke Mountain Naturalists