Canada Target 19
By 2020, more Canadians get out into nature and participate in biodiversity conservation activities.
- Percentage of Canadian households in which one or more people engaged without pay in activities aimed at conservation or protection of the environment or wildlife
- Participation in volunteer-based citizen-science monitoring programs
- Trends in park or conservation area visitation
- Percentage of Canadian households who visit nearby parks and public green spaces
About the Target
Research has demonstrated that the majority of Canadians enjoy time in nature. Outdoor activities increases one’s connection with the natural world and encourages an understanding of the importance and beauty of nature. For many people this helps foster recognition of the value of the natural world in supporting human life and well-being, and encourages them to take part in efforts to conserve biodiversity.
Achieving Canada’s biodiversity goals requires extensive collaboration and cooperation by all parts of society. This includes all levels of government, Indigenous peoples, educational and scientific institutions, environmental non-government organizations, business, individual citizens and youth. The reported number of Canadians who willingly participate in, and seek out, sustainable nature-based activities or biodiversity conservation activities can be indicative of their interest in biodiversity in their home, backyard and communities. These activities can take many forms, including visits to parks and wilderness areas, stewardship, Indigenous cultural teachings and land-based activities, volunteering time with conservation organizations, citizen-science activities including monitoring programs, contributing financially and in-kind to conservation projects and causes or taking part in activities to discover and learn more about Canada's biodiversity.
Canada Target 19 is linked with the following global Aichi target under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020:
- Aichi Target 1 - By 2020, at the latest, people are aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably.
- Aichi Target 4 - By 2020, at the latest, Governments, business and stakeholders at all levels have taken steps to achieve or have implemented plans for sustainable production and consumption and have kept the impacts of use of natural resources well within safe ecological limits.
2018 Interim Progress Assessment
Canada is on track to achieve Target 19. Based on information from various surveys, monitoring programs, and parks agencies, more Canadians appear to be getting out into nature and participating in biodiversity conservation.
For example, the 2015 biennial Households and Environment Survey found that 76% of Canadian households reported that they had recently visited a nearby park or greenspace. This is up from 72% of Canadian households as reported in both 2011 and 2013.
In addition, the 2012 Canadian Nature Survey found that 89% of Canadian adults participated in at least one of over 30 different nature-based activities, such as relaxing in nature, hiking, or gardening. The survey also found that 24% of Canadian adults participated in nature conservation activities, and 15% of Canadian adults participated in citizen science efforts such as monitoring.
The number of Canadians participating in voluntary citizen-science monitoring programs appears to be increasing. Annual participation in initiatives such as the Breeding Bird Survey and Christmas Bird Counts suggests that there has been both an overall increase in participation as well as an increase in effort (such as submitting a checklist in addition to participating in a count) since 2011. The number of observations submitted to iNaturalist also increased dramatically in 2017, thanks to a country-wide push to promote participation in bioblitzes as part of Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations.
Park visitation rates across the country also show an overall increase in recent years. From 2012 to 2016, visitation increased in 7 out of 8 park systems reporting (and remained stable in the 8th). In addition, as part of its celebration of the 150th anniversary of Confederation, the Government of Canada offered free admission to all of Canada’s National Parks, National Historic Sites and National Marine Conservation Areas. More than 8 million Discovery Passes, which granted unlimited entry to these sites, were in circulation in 2017. Visitation for 2017 reached 27.2 million (an 11% increase over the previous year) while associated social media campaigns throughout the year reached 20 million people.
In addition, NatureWatch is an umbrella for several citizen-based monitoring programs including FrogWatch, IceWatch, PlantWatch, Wormwatch, the recently launched MilkweedWatch and soon-to-be launched Arctic Wildlife Watch. Since 2000, NatureWatch has been engaging Canadians in collecting information on nature to better understand the changing environment. A new mobile-friendly website was launched in 2014 with enhanced tools for identifying species and mapping user observations. As well, the program has expanded its reach through partnerships with the National Hockey League, eco-tourism companies, Inuit youth groups, primary school teachers, Scouts Canada and the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology. Students and researchers use NatureWatch data for scientific purposes, and the program encourages Canadians of all ages to connect with Canada’s natural environment.
Canada also contributes to global efforts through its participation and leadership in the global #NatureForAll initiative (see Canada Target 18). #NatureForAll partners are working together to scale up the reach and impact of successful programming that raises awareness and engages people in activities to experience and connect with nature.