CHESTER, NOVA SCOTIA, September 25, 2020 – Canada has fallen far behind other developed countries when it comes to supporting the world’s most threatened and biologically rich tropical ecosystems.

A report published this month by the International Conservation Fund of Canada (ICFC) found that Canada, while increasing protected areas and conservation spending at home, is near the back of the pack among wealthy nations when it comes to foreign aid for biodiversity.

Protecting tropical ecosystems is crucial to stemming the tide of vanishing species and for addressing climate change.  It also reduces the risk of new deadly pandemics.

The ICFC report found that while other donor nations generally increased support for international conservation—some dramatically—during the last two decades, Canada’s conservation aid has been minimal.  The country’s average annual bilateral aid for biodiversity for the years 2016-2018, for example, was just over $10 million—far less than that contributed by France and Germany (more than US$1 billion per year each) to help lower-income countries save nature.

Support from developed to developing countries was called for by the Convention Biological Diversity, which Canada signed in 1992, joined by almost all the world's nations.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in 2019 that Canada was “stepping up as a world leader in biodiversity and nature conservation.”  It is anticipated that he will address the UN Summit on Biodiversity on Wednesday, September 30th, but the nature of Canada’s new commitment is not yet known. The Summit is viewed as an opportunity for world leaders to “raise ambition” in advance of developing a post-2020 global biodiversity framework to be adopted at the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2021.

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View the report


 “As people renowned for their love of nature, Canadians will likely be surprised to learn how far behind Canada has fallen in protecting it internationally.” 

— Molly Bartlett, Executive Director, ICFC

“Investing in nature is the smartest thing we can do. It's crucial in relation to biodiversity loss, climate change and human well-being--especially for the world's most vulnernable people. Our common future depends on it.” 

— Anne Lambert, Founding Director, ICFC

“What would Canada be without the flocks of colorful warblers that stream out of the tropics every year to nest and feast on caterpillars in our Boreal forests? What would the arctic tundra be without the tens of million of shorebirds that make their way through the tropics north to their breeding grounds? These birds form a biological bond between Canada and the tropics that should never be broken. How many Canadians realize that much of the rainfall that falls on the heartland during spring planting time is transported out of the Amazon forest by long range climate connections? Canada is part of the global climate cycle that is strongly influenced by tropical forests. Their loss will greatly elevated CO2 levels in the atmosphere increasing the climate change and extreme weather threats confronting all Canadians. The genetic wealth found in the hundreds of thousands of plants and other organisms of the tropics is a treasure trove of molecules awaiting discovery for medical and industrial application. Tropical species extinctions will deny these benefits to all future Canadians for all time. Canadian leadership in the global environment demands not just action at home but recognition that Canadians will directly benefit from the conservation of the tropics.”

— Adrian Forsyth, award-winning author and conservationist, the Andes Amazon Fund

“Despite the severity of the global pandemic, it is important we keep in mind that the environmental crisis we are facing is a far greater threat to human wellbeing. The degradation of natural ecosystems has profound consequences, to human health, economies and survival.  Zoonotic diseases such as Covid-19 coming from animals to humans are on the rise. As natural areas, and forests are cleared for timber production and agriculture, a ‘checkerboard’ of forest edges is created. This increases the potential points of contact between humans and wildlife, which in turn increases the likelihood of viral transmission and the emergence of dangerous novel human diseases.”

— Kerry Bowman, conservationist and bioethicist, University of Toronto

For more information:

Molly Bartlett, Executive Director, ICFC,, 617-888-2744

Anne Lambert, Founding Director, ICFC,, 902-440-5969 [7 a.m-5 pm ADT/6-4 EDT)

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