Ontario Nature, one of the province's most prominent conservation organizations, held a Rally for Nature at Queen's Park Wednesday, Sept. 21, where the organization announced its Charter for Biodiversity.
More than 6,000 people across Ontario have signed onto the charter, asking the provincial government and all candidates running in the October election to stop the ongoing loss of biodiversity in Ontario.
Speaking at the Rally for Nature were Tim Grant of the Green Party, Rosario Marchese with the NDP and Sarah Thomson of the Liberal Party in addition to Caroline Schultz, executive director of Ontario Nature. Each candidate described what actions their party would take on behalf of endangered species and important habitats.
Over the past two centuries, southern Ontario has lost more than 70% of its wetland habitats, 98% of its original grasslands and approximately 80% of its forests. More than 200 plant and animal species in Ontario are now classified as species at risk. Habitat loss and degradation, invasive species, pollution and over-consumption of natural resources drive the decline of biodiversity, understood as the variety of all life on earth.
"As a society, we cannot allow the ongoing degradation of Ontario's important landscapes, plants and animals," Schultz said. "The health of our population depends on the health of our ecosystems. We need decision makers to take meaningful steps towards the conservation of our woods, water and wildlife."
The Biodiversity Charter for Ontario outlines 10 ways the province can stop the loss of wild species and wild spaces by 2020. These steps include supporting the establishment of a network of natural areas across southern and eastern Ontario; adopting an approach to conservation so that common species remain common; and reducing the release of contaminants through meaningful implementation of the Toxics Reduction Act and the Toxics Reduction Strategy.
Courtesy Ontario Nature