By Samantha Knight
Across Canada, people have been ramping up their efforts to protect our planet.
In 2021, Indigenous communities, donors, land owners, and all levels of government came together with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to protect more than 200 square kilometres of wetlands, beaches, forests, and prairie.
These big, bold projects are vital to tackling the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change.
They give me hope for restoring a healthy planet where people can thrive, despite the gravity of these crises.
From the food on our tables, to the air we breathe and the water we drink, nature allows us to thrive.
Many of our best tools to remove carbon dioxide from our air, purify our water, and heal our planet lie in the roots of our grasslands, in the depths of our lakes, and in the canopies of our forests.
These spaces provide nature-based solutions that help temper the brunt of what a changing climate throws our way; one of the most cost-effective ways to do so while slowing further warming.
Healthy wetlands swell like sponges during periods of heavy rain and snowmelt, slowing water flow and saving nearby communities from potential flooding.
Intact forests and grasslands play a role in managing water flow, too.
All the while, these spaces sequester and store carbon dioxide and offer vibrant habitats to countless species, including many of Canada’s most vulnerable plants and animals.
In the face of these challenges, nature is our ally.
From lessening the impacts of climate change to supporting human health and well-being, nature provides myriad essential, and largely undervalued, solutions to today’s crises.
But we need to protect, and in many cases restore, intact ecosystems if they’re to help us navigate our way through the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. If we can be there for nature through conservation, nature will be there for us.
Recent research tells us that Canadians see the value of nature and nature-based solutions.
In a fall 2021 Ipsos poll of 2,000 people across Canada, NCC learned that 95 per cent of respondents agreed that conserving and caring for nature was important to them. Eighty-four per cent of respondents told us they agreed that conservation is an important tool in the fight against climate change.
We know that there are many more opportunities across Canada to conserve natural areas by collaborating with communities and partners.
Together, in 2021, NCC helped conserve 20,600 hectares from coast to coast; important natural areas that provide critical ecological services to the plants, animals, and communities that rely on them.
Nature can provide more than 30 per cent of the solutions needed to stabilize our warming world, and NCC plans to conserve another one million hectares by 2030, while also restoring degraded lands where we currently work.
In 2022, we’re ready to work at unprecedented scales to protect more nature.
Together, we have the opportunity to build toward a greater good — a thriving world.
Because when nature thrives, people thrive.
Samantha Knight is a National Conservation Science Manager with the Nature Conservancy of Canada.