Biological diversity (or biodiversity) refers to the natural variety of life on Earth – the variety within and between species of plants, animals, and micro-organisms, and the ecosystems in which they live. This diversity is linked to the quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soils we depend upon for food, and the lands we depend on for natural resources.
Biodiversity loss – which is caused by development and habitat destruction, climate change, invasive species, hunting and pollution – is one of the most critical environmental problems facing the planet.
Although the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has the most direct responsibility in fighting Ontario’s biodiversity loss, many government ministries have important roles to play. Many policies, regulations and Acts figure in Ontario’s management of plants and wildlife, including the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997, the Endangered Species Act, 2007, and the Invasive Species Act, 2015.
- Three EBR Applications for Review (see our 1999/2000, 2002/2003 and 2004/2005 Annual Reports) all called for an overhaul of Ontario’s outdated legislative framework for protecting species at risk. The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario reiterated the applicants’ concerns, and eventually, the government listened. It proposed new legislation, consulted the public via the Environmental Registry, and passed the Endangered Species Act, 2007 – a law with much-needed advances in the protection of species at risk.
- In our 2009 Special Report on the Endangered Species Act, 2007, the ECO recommended that the Government of Ontario establish a statutory responsibility for monitoring and reporting on the state of the province’s biodiversity. Ontario still lacks baseline information and ongoing monitoring for change – both are essential components of an effective plan to conserve biodiversity.
The ECO has reported extensively on biodiversity, including issues related to: biodiversity conservation, species at risk, invasive species, and fish and wildlife management. Below is a selection of the ECO’s reports and articles on biodiversity issues (see also: protected areas and land use). You can also use the search bar at the top of this page to search our website and reports for a particular word or phrase.