June 5, 2021 – Gatineau, Quebec
“Today is World Environment Day and this year’s theme of “Ecosystem Restoration” has a special resonance for Canadians.
“Nature is a fundamental part of our national identity. Canadians understand the value of nature and wild spaces, and the essential role they play in our health and well-being. Part of building back better, after more than a year of pandemic measures, is the recognition of just how much healthy ecosystems are the foundation of every part of our lives. Yesterday, to mark the occasion, I planted a sapling at the Maplewood Flats Conservation Area with a local partner, the Wild Bird Trust BC. Whether we are planting trees in urban parks, restoring wetlands that prevent flooding, cleaning up plastic pollution or conserving vast tracts of boreal forest and keeping marine coastlands intact, we depend on nature for clean air and water, food and medicine, security from natural disasters, cultural connection, and personal peace of mind.
“Conserving, restoring and protecting ecosystems is also vital to our efforts in fighting climate change, protecting biodiversity and species at risk, and rebuilding a strong, sustainable economy. Canada’s boreal forest and muskeg – lands the Mushkegowuk Cree call the “Breathing Lands” because they’re the lungs of the Earth – are one the four largest carbon pools on the planet. Canada’s forests are also the key to conserving biodiversity. They’re the breeding ground for almost half the birds on the continent and critical to stemming the decline of iconic species such as the boreal caribou. A nature-positive, carbon-neutral path is the way forward for greenhouse gas mitigation, climate change adaptation, protecting and conserving nature, and healthier communities, all at the same time.
“This is why the Government of Canada has committed to conserving a quarter of Canada’s lands and oceans by 2025. Since 2015, the percentage of Canada’s marine and coastal areas that are protected has risen from less than 1 percent to almost 14 percent. Canada continues to advocate internationally for conserving 30 percent of the world’s lands and oceans by 2030, and we’re leading by example.
“As we mark the conclusion of Canada’s own Environment Week, it’s a good day to take stock. From supporting science-based research that will further our understanding of plastic pollution, to helping conserve 117 hectares and update a network of trails in Musquash Head, N.B., to supporting 58 community-based climate action projects that will help reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions en route to net-zero emissions by 2050, the work of restoring and conserving nature continues.
“A special note of appreciation to First Nations who protect lands and waters in their traditional territories through community-based stewardship initiatives. As part of National Indigenous History Month held in June, I announced $600,000 shared between 10 First Nations across the country under the Indigenous Guardians Pilot. Indigenous stewards of the land were the original nature-based solution, and Canada is committed to supporting Indigenous leadership in conservation through initiatives like First Nations Guardians, to help protect ecosystems, species, and cultures for future generations.
“Two things truly unite all Canadians: nature, and the weather. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Environment and Climate Change Canada and the 150th of the Meteorological Service of Canada.
“I wish to acknowledge and thank Canadians from all regions and generations for the truly collective effort underway to help safeguard Canada’s ecosystems. We have the opportunity to restore more than hope and prosperity as we move past the COVID-19 pandemic. We can restore the planet we share.”