Environmental Commissioner ignored again

By Penny Caldwell »Penny Caldwell

Biodiversity at risk in Ontario

January 12th, 2012



Guest post by Blair Eveleigh, senior associate editor.

In case you weren’t aware, we’re now in the second year of the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity. You’d never know it from reading the papers. Case in point: Once again, the Ontario Environmental Commissioner, Gord Miller, releases a special report on the “urgent crisis” of biodiversity and the major media ignore him (at least I can’t seem to find anything about this on the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, or the National Post websites). Miller says that we are falling behind on our goals of protecting biodiversity. The province adopted a five-year Biodiversity Strategy in 2005, but this expired in 2010 and the government has so far not renewed it. Consequences? The province has no coordinated strategy for the 13 provincial ministries that Miller says have some responsibilities for conserving biodiversity, with the Ministry of Natural Resources as the obvious lead agency.

It’s really a shame that Miller doesn’t get more traction on the news, because he can be quite critical in his comments. While it’s up to the provinces and territories to take action on biodiversity, it’s the federal government that makes commitments when it comes to goals and obligations. In 2010, at a summit in Nagoya, Japan, Canada agreed on 20 biodiversity conservation targets to meet by 2020. We know how the feds feel about these kinds of commitments (sorry, Kyoto Protocol). Miller remarks: “Do we mean it when we as a nation make a promise to the rest of the world…are we prepared to follow through or have we lost our dignity as a nation?”










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Blair Eveleigh


Jan. 13, 2012

5:20 pm

Thanks for the reply. I hope the government does take the commissioner's report seriously. There's no reason the province can't have a coordinated approach, especially since the Ontario Biodiversity Council, a non-governmental body, has already done the work and come up with a strategy. We'll have to keep an eye on this issue.

Treesand water

Jan. 13, 2012

3:38 pm

Waterfront property owners, and their local associations, are important stakeholders in the province’s biodiversity, and have a role to play as stewards of the places where we live. The Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations’ members own thousands of hectares of important waterfront lands, and thousands of kilometres of sensitive and biologically important shorelines across Ontario. Positive action at the waters’ edge by every property owner is vital to a sustainable future – but it will fall short without a coordinated and meaningful approach to policy and programs from the Ontario government. FOCA participates as a member of the Ontario Biodiversity Council, and acts as the Stewardship Liaison through the Stewardship Network of Ontario, and is supportive of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario’s recent report calling for a multi-ministry response from the Province in order to protect Ontario’s important biodiversity. We look forward to the government's response to the ECO report. To learn more about what cottagers can do for the environment, visit www.foca.on.ca/environment

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Penny Caldwell