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Biodiversity in Canada

Biodiversity in Canada: Ecology, Ideas, and Action

edited by Stephen Bocking
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 426
  • Book Info
    Biodiversity in Canada
    Book Description:

    Biodiversity in Canadatackles the formidable and critically important issues of our natural resources and wilderness.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0237-3
    Subjects: Sociology, Environmental Science, Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Encountering Biodiversity: Ecology, Ideas, Action
    (pp. ix-xxvi)
    Stephen Bocking

    Biodiversity is a recent arrival on the world’s environmental agenda, prominent only in the last two decades, and especially after the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (the Earth Summit). The Convention on Biological Diversity — one product of the summit — focused attention on our impacts on our living environment. Species are going extinct at a rate likely unequalled since the age of the dinosaurs; countless habitats, from coral reefs to forests, are being lost; we consume an ever-increasing fraction of the world’s biological productivity. We are living a crisis in how we relate to other species.

    Biodiversity is also...

  5. Part One: Where We’ve Been

    • 2 The Background of Biodiversity: A Brief History of Canadians and Their Living Environment
      (pp. 3-30)
      Stephen Bocking

      “Biodiversity” seems a word without a history, appearing only in the last decade, pushing its way into our ideas about the living environment. What we now define as biodiversity issues have long been with us: in debates about new national parks; or in controversies about resource development; or in the history of scientific studies of Canada’s environment.

      Biodiversity issues today often exhibit the effects of decisions made long ago. In Ontario’s Algonquin Park debate continues over forest industry activities in the park’s interior — a relic of a century ago, when logging within the new park was seen as entirely appropriate....

    • 3 Banff National Park: The Historic Legacy for Biodiversity
      (pp. 31-56)
      Bob Page

      Biodiversity protection remains an essential component of the environmental agenda, but public discussion of the required policy tools has been limited. Almost everywhere expanding development presses in on remaining secure habitat. The species toll is documented in scientific reports and television specials. While the evidence is clear, the ability of governments to craft an effective policy response remains elusive. Endangered species legislation dies on the order paper in Ottawa and the scientific process for identifying threatened and endangered species is facing political challenge.¹ The weakness of the policy tools is compounded by the lack of political will in enforcing them....

  6. Part Two: The Ecology of Biodiversity

    • 4 Status of and Trends in Canadian Biodiversity
      (pp. 59-80)
      Ted Mosquin

      Canadian biodiversity can be measured in two ways. First, we can record and describe what is happening to biodiversity itself — both today and in the past — say, over the last 25 or 250 years. Such a description would establish therelative conditionof this country’s genes, species, ecosystems, ecological functions/processes, and water/land/air matrix (in which biodiversity is embedded) in comparison to some norm or standard. Another way to examine the state of biodiversity is to document how the actions of people, especially environmental organizations, government departments, or large corporations are causing positive and negative trends in the quality and quantity...

    • 5 Biodiversity in Canadian Fresh and Marine Waters
      (pp. 81-106)
      Don E. McAllister

      Freshwater and marine ecosystems in Canada contain a diversity of elements: kelp forests with sea urchins and sea otters; deep-sea hydrothermal vents with bacteria tolerant of boiling temperatures and one-metre long worms fuelled by hot sulphur-laden springs; billions of tiny diatoms gathering sun rays on the underside of sea ice, the base of a food chain that includes crustaceans, Arctic cod, seals, and polar bears; springtails on snow; wetlands, covering 14 per cent of the country, invaded by exotic purple loosestrife.

      Canada has large areas of aquatic ecosystems (Figure 1); and given its vertical dimension, the marine environment is likely...

    • 6 The Roles of Biodiversity in Creating and Maintaining the Ecosphere
      (pp. 107-136)
      Ted Mosquin

      This chapter¹ considers several intriguing questions. First, what specific functions of ecosystems and their organisms have enabled the unfolding and evolution of such a complex and astounding biodiversity in marine, freshwater, and terrestrial regions of the earth? Second, which of these functions have been most instrumental in creating the ecosphere that humans encountered when they first arrived on the scene? By ecosphere I mean the whole living earth — a deep magma/solid rock/soil/sediment layer, a water layer at the surface, an atmospheric layer, together with their contained assemblage of organisms — the biotic communities that have evolved and within which organisms are...

    • 7 The Chain of Seeds: Biodiversity and Agriculture
      (pp. 137-150)
      Bob Wildfong

      Ever since the first farmers turned the soil, the ability to acquire viable, well-adapted seeds has allowed human beings to form civilizations, set up permanent settlements, and build cities, supported by a reliable and bountiful source of food. Many times, they have had to change their kinds of food crops. As people moved to different areas of the world and developed different farming technologies, from simple ploughs to giant combines, their seeds changed with them.

      It is this ability to change that has made plants so important. Without the possibility of adaptation, controlled breeding, and selection, it would be impossible...

  7. Part Three: Ideas, Knowledge, and Values

    • 8 Taking Indigenous Science Seriously
      (pp. 153-174)
      Russel Lawrence Barsh

      In the early 1990s controversy erupted over a proposed diamond mine on land claimed by Dene people in the Northwest Territories. Broken Hill Pty. (BHP), an Australian mining conglomerate, had announced the discovery of a large pipe of diamond-bearing kimberlite in 1994. Dene hunters in the area were quick to express concerns about the effects of mining on the health and migration routes of caribou.¹

      The Environmental Assessment Panel struck by the federal government to review BHP’S mining application decided to give equal weight to science and to traditional Dene knowledge. Some critics charged that this violated the principle of...

    • 9 Science and Biodiversity
      (pp. 175-188)
      Richard K. Baydack

      Science can be thought of as knowledge accumulated over time through systematic investigation. Essential to past developments, science will no doubt be a key to our future. People generally assume that science plays a critical role in biodiversity conservation, but how effectively does science fulfil this role? This chapter will consider this question in relation to one of the most significant conservation efforts ever attempted: the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.¹ The Plan, signed in 1986 by the governments of Canada and the United States, with Mexico becoming a full partner in 1994, is a co-operative international effort to reverse...

    • 10 Celebrating Diversity: Adaptive Planning and Biodiversity Conservation
      (pp. 189-218)
      Nina-Marie E. Lister and James J. Kay

      We are only now becoming aware of the complexity and surprising dynamics of the living environment. The paradox of biodiversity science is that the more knowledge we acquire, the more uncertainty we encounter — which renders planning for conservation a sticky business indeed.

      Biodiversity conservation in Canada is being undertaken by all levels of government, and by many non-government organizations, such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, and the Evergreen Foundation. The primary means of protecting biodiversity arein situmethods — that is, in their natural setting, in protected areas. Indeed, most conservation initiatives worldwide are...

    • 11 Economic Aspects of Canadian Biodiversity
      (pp. 219-236)
      Peter Whiting

      Corn, or maize was developed from a grass by indigenous peoples of the Americas approximately 7,000 years ago. Starting with small cobs, less than a finger-length long, they bred cobs up to 20-30 cm long, filled with richly nutritious yellow kernels. Worldwide, corn production today is worth at least $50 billion annually and is a staple food for millions of people. The enormous contemporary significance of corn and its origins in a species of grass provide a hint of the economic value of biological diversity.

      In 1992, prior to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio...

    • 12 Public Perspectives on Biodiversity: Models and a Case Study
      (pp. 237-270)
      Loren Vanderlinden and John Eyles

      Scientists, managers, policy-makers, public interest groups, and the general public all may recognize biodiversity as important and valuable; but each group has a unique perspective. Public support for biodiversity protection hinges on how well it strikes a chord in the public psyche; and this, in turn, depends on how well it corresponds to commonly held ideas about biodiversity. This chapter examines the Canadian public’s perspective on biodiversity. It also presents results from a study of public views of biodiversity, with reference to a specific forest in southwestern Ontario.

      Public views of biodiversity, like those of any complex environmental issue, are...

  8. Part Four: Taking Action

    • 13 Biodiversity: The Policy Challenge
      (pp. 273-296)
      Robert Paehlke

      The policy challenges associated with the protection of biodiversity are daunting. Effective protection hinges on a transformation in societal values that is not yet complete, even among those in wealthier nations whose immediate economic interests are not threatened. Evidently, humans will rarely opt for the well-being of other species at their own expense. But there has nevertheless been a remarkable shift in the value we attach to wild species and spaces. Whether this shift is occurring rapidly enough, and is permanent, is unknown.

      Changes in policy require more than just a transformation of values. This chapter considers four challenges facing...

    • 14 Canadian Biodiversity and the Law
      (pp. 297-326)
      Ian Attridge

      People are often surprised to learn that Canada has no national endangered species legislation. Its absence exemplifies the challenge of conserving biodiversity in Canada. In 1996, after a series of consultations and reports, the Canadian Endangered Species Protection Act (Bill C-65, or CESPA) was introduced. It legally established the already existing Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), and provided some protection for aquatic species, migratory birds, species on federal lands, or (in consultation with the provinces) that cross international boundaries. Prohibitions against harming or taking listed species, damaging their “residences,” emergency orders, citizen enforcement, and measures...

    • 15 Implementing a Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan in Quebec
      (pp. 327-346)
      Jacques Prescott, Benoît Gauthier and Léopold Gaudreau

      Quebec contains a remarkable diversity of land scapes, from the boreal and mixed forests and streams and lakes of the St. Lawrence region to the tundra and taiga of northern Quebec. The effects of centuries of human activity also are evident. In the south, farms have been carved from the forests that covered much of the St. Lawrence River valley, and forests, fields and wetlands continue to be consumed as Montreal and other urban areas expand. Further north, the boreal forests feed the mills of Quebec's pulp and paper industry. There, and in the tundra and taiga of northern Quebec,...

    • 16 The Role of Non-Government Organizations in Biodiversity Conservation
      (pp. 347-366)
      Jerry V. DeMarco and Anne C. Bell

      The Red River Valley of south-central Manitoba was once a wide expanse of tall-grass prairie, a rich and intricate weave of grasses, flowers, and wildlife. Early in the nineteenth century, however, the valley’s deep, fertile soils proved irresistible to settlers from Europe and eastern Canada who set to work taming and transforming nature’s complex design. Today, a sea of cereal and forage crops blankets the land, and less than 1 per cent of the original tall-grass prairie remains.

      The surviving prairie remnants have been the focus of conservation efforts since 1987, when the Manitoba Naturalists Society launched a two-year survey...

    • 17 Alberta’s Special Places 2000: Conservation, Conflict, and the Castle-Crown Wilderness
      (pp. 367-390)
      Lorna Stefanick and Kathleen Wells

      In November 1992, the Alberta government tabled a draft policy document entitledSpecial Places 2000: Alberta’s Natural Heritage.The Alberta Special Places program was described as “a bold, new direction” for environmental conservation decision-making and was seen as a statement of Alberta’s commitment to the World Wildlife Fund’s Endangered Spaces campaign. The draft document was widely distributed, open houses and group meetings solicited public input, and a public advisory committee gathered public responses and recommended a course of action. In 1995, the final draft of theSpecial Places 2000document was released, and industry, conservation groups, and citizens were invited...

    • 18 The Political Ecology of Biodiversity: A View from the Western Woods
      (pp. 391-414)
      R. Michael M’Gonigle

      On October 21, 1996, the British Columbia Land Use Co-ordination Office issued a press release under the headline “Kootenay Land Use Plan Implementation Unveiled.” Trumpeting the government's “historic progress towards sustainability” in the region, including the designation of 16 new provincial parks, the release also revealed that cutting permits in the domestic watershed for the town New Denver had been issued to Slocan Forest Products, now the province’s largest forest company. Logging, it was stated, would be according to the highest standards “for management of special values, including biodiversity.”¹

      To those who had followed debates about wilderness protection and “alternative”...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 415-419)
  10. Index
    (pp. 420-426)