Canada Target 2

By 2020, species that are secure remain secure, and Goal Apopulations of species at risk listed under federal law exhibit trends that are consistent with recovery strategies and management plans.



About the Target

Canada is home to a unique variety of plants and animals. These species not only represent Canada’s rich biodiversity, but are also an integral part of all Canadians’ natural and cultural heritage. This is especially the case for Indigenous peoples. Each species plays a key role in maintaining the overall health of ecosystems as ensuring the health of native populations of species is fundamental to preserving Canada's biodiversity and the benefits that it provides. However, the well-being of some of these species is under threat.

In 1995 Canada’s federal, provincial, and territorial governments adopted the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy as Canada’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. This led to the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, by which federal, provincial and territorial government Ministers committed to designate species at risk, protect their habitats, and develop recovery plans, and to develop complementary legislation, regulations, policies and programs to achieve these outcomes. Federal legislation, the Species at Risk Act, was passed in 2002. This law recognizes the essential role of Indigenous peoples of Canada in the conservation of wildlife and included among other things, the creation of the National Aboriginal Council on Species at Risk.

Canada is home to about 80,000 different species, and to maintain biodiversity, there is a need to ensure that the species that are assessed as secure remain secure, since the loss of a species is a loss of biodiversity. Canada has over 600 species that are listed under federal law as “at risk”, largely as a result of habitat loss and degradation, competition from invasive alien species, and environmental changes resulting from climate change and pollution. When a plant or an animal is determined to be at risk under federal law, plans for its recovery or management must be made. Concerted effort at local, provincial, territorial and federal levels is essential to ensure improvements in the condition of species and meet the objectives laid out in recovery strategies.

Canada Target 2 is linked with the following global Aichi target under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020:

  • Aichi Target 12 - By 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained.


2018 Interim Progress Assessment

On track to meeting target at an insufficient rate icon

Canada measures progress towards this target using three indicators: trends in species at risk populations, changes in wildlife species disappearance risks, and trends in the general status of wild species.

Overall, progress is being made on the recovery of species at risk, although at an insufficient rate to meet Canada Target 2 by the end of 2020. In addition, evidence to support comprehensive reporting against this target is limited, although it is anticipated that more information will become available as recovery strategies are completed and implemented for various species.

Canadian governments have established systems for identifying and recovering species at risk. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) plays a key role in assessing the conservation status of these species. Government agencies across the country also have systems in place for listing species under relevant legislation and subsequently planning and implementing measures aimed at recovering key populations.

Canada also has a number of stewardship programs that help support these efforts. For example, the federal Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP) is part of Canada’s national strategy for the protection of species at risk. The HSP engages Canadians in conservation actions to benefit wildlife. Between 2013 and 2016, the HSP invested over $36 million to support more than 500 local species at risk conservation projects, benefiting on average more than 310 species at risk each year. Similar programs exist in several provinces and territories.

In June 2018, federal, provincial, and territorial Ministers agreed to continue moving towards a more targeted, multi-species approach to species at risk conservation and established a new set of principles to help guide these efforts. This is expected to accelerate progress towards this target over time.

In addition, Canada's new $500 million Nature Fund includes funds to support progress on the protection and recovery of species at risk. Over $200 million of this Fund is being dedicated to advancing this new partnership-based approach to help species at risk focused on priority places, species, and threats.

Canada also contributes to global efforts through its participation in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which regulates the legal international trade of wild fauna and flora to help ensure their survival. Canada chairs several CITES committees and is actively involved in a number of key working groups under the Convention.


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