(Nature Conservancy of Canada)

(Nature Conservancy of Canada)

A new relationship to wildlife is needed for nature and people

Opinion: Dan Kraus is senior conservation biologist with the Nature Conservancy of Canada

COVID-19 has brought us unprecedented health and economic challenges.

It will test the resolve and resiliency of each Canadian and our nation. Crises have a way of unveiling truths, flaws and misconceptions in any society.

Our immediate crisis is reinforcing the importance of family, community, health care and food security.

But at the root of the current crisis, and fundamental to the solution, is our relationships with the other species that share our planet.

National Wildlife Week (the week of April 10) is an opportunity to reflect on how we value all species, including our own, and our connections to the natural world.

The good news amidst the current crisis is that while society adapts to a new normal, nature is continuing to provide us with critical services.

Wetlands are filtering drinking water and holding back floods.

The roots of willow and cottonwood are binding soil and keeping it from eroding along rivers and streams.

Budding urban trees will soon ramp up their service of purifying air and shading our streets and homes. All point to nature’s critical role in our well-being. And that we need nature’s services now more than ever.

Many of the fruits and vegetables grown in Canada are pollinated by non-native honeybees that are shipped around the world. As these shipments are stalled, the role of local native pollinators has perhaps never been more important.

While native bees, butterflies, beetles and other insects may never fully replace honeybees on our farms, their conservation and restoration in our agricultural ecosystems will help to strengthen future food security.

Perhaps the most important service that nature provides is how contact with the natural world can benefit us.

There is clear evidence that spending time in nature improves our well-being. Many people are practicing safe physical distancing outdoors. But even just looking at pictures of wildlife, virtually exploring nature and making plans to visit natural areas once it is safe to do so can help to nurture our mental health.

There’s little question that COVID-19 was transmitted to people in wildlife markets.

Growing calls to shut down the illegal trade of wild animals, including endangered species, will support conservation and reduce the probability of future outbreaks.

But the loss of nature and disease is not just limited to foreign places. In North America the rapid spread of Lyme disease has been linked to human-caused alterations to food webs and habitats and climate change.

The fact is, biodiversity loss and climate change don’t just result in a loss of nature – they create uncertainty.

Uncertainty that threatens our security, economy, well-being and unnecessarily pushes our society into dark and uncomfortable corners. The health and security of nature are the health and security of all of us.

If there is a silver lining in our current situation, it may be that this time of physical distancing represents an opportunity to renew our connections to the people we love, our communities and to nature.

In every community across Canada, birds are still migrating, wildflowers are blooming and many animals are preparing for their next generation.

We can learn about the extraordinary wildlife that shares our country and communities. If you have a backyard, explore how nature can be welcomed back home in the place you live.

Nature is the foundation of our society.

Once we emerge into a post-COVID world, we will have an opportunity to rebuild this foundation. In the south, wildlife and habitats can be restored, while in our northlands we can conserve some of the planet’s last wilderness.

Caring for nature is caring for ourselves.

Discover, know and share your relationship with nature. Use this time to connect with it and help your children to find this connection.

Dan Kraus is senior conservation biologist with the Nature Conservancy of Canada

CoronavirusWildlife

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Photo: Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash
Kootenay angler winner

Grand prize draw to be held in June 2021

Every year on Dec. 6, Canada observes National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. The day commemorates the anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre in 1989. To recognize this day, the City of Trail lights the bridge red. Photo: Trail Times
Trail advocates call attention to violence against women

“The 16 Days are an opportunity to unite with others,” saya Ann Godderis.

Crews retrieved the overturned commercial truck from the crash scene on Friday, Nov. 20. Photo: Betsy Kline
UPDATE: Kootenay woman dies in Genelle collision

The incident occurred Thursday, Nov. 19.

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
104 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

IH is reporting the new numbers since Friday, Nov. 20

Trail RCMP seized illicit drugs, cash and a weapon following a traffic stop in West Trail on Nov. 18. Photo: Trail RCMP
West Kootenay man, woman face drug charges after traffic stop

Police report that three types of illicit drugs were seized as well as cash and a Taser

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

7-year-old Mackenzie Hodge from Penticton sent a hand-written letter to premiere John Horgan asking if she’d be able to see her elf, Ralph under the new coronavirus restrictions. (John Horgan / Twitter)
Elf on the shelf an acceptable house guest, B.C. premier tells Penticton girl

A 7-year-old from Penticton penned a letter asking if she’d be allowed to see her elf this year

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

Most Read