Government of Canada marks country's achievements on 2014 International Day for Biodiversity

OTTAWA, May 22, 2014 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council, issued the following statement marking International Day for Biodiversity.

"Each year on May 22nd, countries around the world celebrate International Day for Biological Diversity to promote understanding and awareness of the importance of biodiversity. In honour of this year's theme of "Island Biodiversity", I am proud to say that Canada has a long history of conserving important island ecosystems through the creation of protected areas. Thousand Islands National Park was the first to protect significant island ecosystems. Today, more than one-third of Canada's 44 national parks and national park reserves are located on islands.

"With the recently announced National Conservation Plan, we will continue to build on this legacy of conservation work by taking concrete action to conserve and protect Canada's rich natural heritage. The Plan will achieve its vision and contribute to Canada's long-term prosperity by advancing work in three priority areas: conserving Canada's lands and waters, restoring Canada's ecosystems, and connecting Canadians to nature. It will encourage on-the-ground action and partnerships leading to tangible results.

"Since 2006, the Government has taken important steps to conserve and restore our country's natural environment and connect Canadians to our rich natural heritage. We have added an area nearly twice the size of Vancouver Island to the network of federal protected areas, including the Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, the world's first protected area extending from the mountain tops to the sea floor, and the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, the world's largest freshwater protected area.

"Furthermore, since 2006, we have created three National Wildlife Areas in Nunavut, protecting 4,554 km2 of marine, coastal and terrestrial habitats including the world's sanctuary for bowhead whales. Also, we have designated three new Marine Protected Areas under the Oceans Act located in New Brunswick, in British Columbia, and in the Beaufort Sea.

"The Government of Canada also continues to play a major part in the promotion and protection of biodiversity internationally. Canada has long been a champion of effective implementation of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). We continue to be a proud host of the CBD Secretariat in Montreal, a privilege we've had for more than 16 years.

"As chair for the Arctic Council, Canada will continue to advance biodiversity and conservation in the Arctic region, including advancement of the Arctic Migratory Bird Initiative. Along with our Norwegian partners, we will be co-chairing an Arctic Biodiversity Congress to discuss status and trends of Arctic biodiversity and encourage dialogue among industry, scientists, Aboriginal people and policy makers on how best to ensure conservation and sustainable use in Arctic ecosystems."

Canadians can learn more about Environment Canada's work on biodiversity.
Canadians can also learn more about the EcoAction Community Funding Program and the National Conservation Plan.

SOURCE Environment Canada

For further information:

Amanda Gordon
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of the Environment
819-997-1441

Media Relations
Environment Canada
819-934-8008