CPAWS Healthy Nature Healthy People: A Call to Put Nature Protection at the Heart of Canada’s COVID-19 Recovery
Canada is a country deeply connected to nature. It underpins our sense of place, our well-being, and our economy. Yet there is ample evidence that nature in our country, like in the rest of the world, is in crisis.1 Much more of our country’s land and freshwater needs protecting to sustain the healthy ecosystems that all Canadians rely on and to tackle the climate change crisis. In early 2020, momentum was building in Canada and around the world for more ambitious conservation action. The federal government committed in late 2019 to protecting 25% of Canada’s land and ocean by 2025 and 30% by 2030 — a move that was welcomed by CPAWS and reaffirmed by the Prime Minister in recent public statements.2, 3, 4 Canada also promised to take on a global leadership role by encouraging other countries to support ambitious land and ocean protection targets in the new global biodiversity framework being negotiated under the mantle of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD).5 Then the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down in the span of a few weeks — devastating families, overwhelming some countries’ health care systems, and shutting down the global economy. CPAWS continued our work to protect Canada’s land and ocean, carefully heeding public health advice and working remotely, and began to explore what the pandemic could mean for conservation. This report highlights what we have learned about the relationship between the pandemic and terrestrial conservation and presents a case for why governments in Canada should put nature conservation at the heart of our country’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.