Canada Target 14
By 2020, the science base for biodiversity is enhanced and knowledge of biodiversity is better integrated and more accessible.
- Number of taxonomically classified specimens in Canadian collections that are available for scientific use, and the proportion of those specimens with digital records
- Completion of a national assessment of biodiversity science required to address policy needs
- The number of peer-reviewed reports written by 2020 which contribute to addressing key biodiversity science needs
- Number of biodiversity monitoring programs contributing information to a national or provincial web portal
About the Target
Information and understanding is essential for managing and conserving biodiversity. In order to improve Canada’s understanding of the benefits of ecosystem services and the impacts of biodiversity loss on the functioning of ecosystems and on society, information about biodiversity values, ecosystem processes, vulnerabilities, and the status and trends of the country’s ecosystems and species is needed, in a form that is easily accessible to decision-makers.
Canada’s biodiversity and ecosystem services knowledge base is growing, through efforts to incorporate relevant information from multiple perspectives including Indigenous knowledge. Improved capacity to measure and monitor biodiversity is an important step towards increasing Canada’s comprehension of the effects human activities and management practices have on ecosystems.
Ongoing research is vital to furnishing a deeper understanding of biodiversity. Advances in remote sensing, geographic information systems, bioinformatics, and the internet offer unprecedented potential for developing and sharing data, setting the stage for a next wave of knowledge innovation. Improving the biodiversity knowledge base involves harnessing the advantages of innovation, enabling greater potential for collaboration between governments, citizen-science initiatives, Indigenous groups, universities, and private sector organizations. New technologies are transforming the ways knowledge is created and shared and facilitating policy integration within and across sectors and jurisdictions. These technologies also provide the opportunity to develop a knowledge infrastructure with a shared science base, decision support tools, best practices, and innovative governance. Biodiversity-sensitive decision-making from local to national levels requires such an infrastructure to develop and thrive.
Canada Target 14 is linked with the following global Aichi target under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020:
- Aichi Target 19 - By 2020, knowledge, the science base and technologies relating to biodiversity, its values, functioning, status and trends, and the consequences of its loss, are improved, widely shared and transferred, and applied.
2018 Interim Progress Assessment
Overall, Canada is making progress towards Canada Target 14. The science base related to biodiversity continues to grow, as evidenced by indicators such as the number of publications of relevant scientific literature, enhancement of biodiversity databases, and increasing availability of biodiversity-related data online.
A Web of Science search of the terms “biodiversity” and “Canada” found almost 3,700 scientific papers published between 2011 and 2018.
Several recent research initiatives illustrate progress toward the target, including mapping and classification exercises like the Ontario Biodiversity Atlas and taxonomic work of Canada’s museums, remote sensing projects like BioSpace, and genetic barcoding initiatives like the Barcode of Life Data System.
The Ontario Biodiversity Atlas provides detailed information on important species and habitats. The Atlas highlights areas that have multiple and overlapping biodiversity values to show wildlife managers where targeted conservation actions could have the greatest impact. The Atlas identifies High Value Biodiversity Areas (HBVAs), places that contain the highest quality habitat for species at risk and migratory birds, across southern and central Ontario. The Biodiversity Atlas can help governments and non-government partners better understand the distribution of species and habitats and support decisions regarding habitat protection, restoration, and stewardship activities.
At the end of 2017, major Canadian museum collections contained more than 26 million taxonomically-classified specimens from Canadian locations that are available for scientific use, an increase of more than 4 million since 2013. Over 30% of these specimens now have digitized information available, an increase from just under 23% in 2013.
BioSpace—Biodiversity monitoring with earth observation data—is a joint project of the Canadian Forest Service and the Canadian Space Agency. It uses remote sensing technology to observe the landscape, gather data on biodiversity, and monitor changes.
The Government of Canada developed an online geospatial mapping platform called OpenMaps to support decision-making and land use planning. This tool integrates many different base layers, and will continue to expand with the addition of biodiversity data such as land cover data.
Canada leads in the development and dissemination of genetic barcoding information, and hosts the Barcode of Life Data System database. This system contains barcoding sequences for over 6.4 million specimens across more than 282 thousand species. Over 2 million of these specimens, representing more than 31 thousand species, are Canadian records.
Canadian governments partner with universities across the country to advance biodiversity science and research. One among several partnerships is the Centre for Wildlife Ecology, a collaboration between Simon Fraser University and the Government of Canada. Its mission is to foster high quality, graduate training and research, to conduct basic and applied research in wildlife ecology, and to provide knowledge and personnel that will help the Government of Canada meet the challenges of conservation in the 21st century.
There is a growing number of biodiversity monitoring and research programs across the country that are contributing information to national or provincial web portals.
The largest international web portal related to biodiversity information is the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, which holds nearly 1 billion records globally. In 2018, this includes 44.4 million records related to biodiversity in Canada, drawn from more than 1000 different sources. More than 80% of the Facility’s data comes from eBird, which brings together observations from birders related to the distribution and abundance of birds in Canada. Data from iNaturalist, another citizen science-based program, are also included in Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
NatureCounts is a Canadian biodiversity web portal, managed by Bird Studies Canada. This includes hundreds of datasets from several biodiversity monitoring programs, predominantly for birds. NatureCounts is a node of the Avian Knowledge Network, a broad biodiversity portal for bird data that integrates data from more than 850 programs, largely in the Americas.