OTTAWA — Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says Canada is committed to meeting its promise to protect about one-sixth of its land and waterways by 2020, but won’t say if the government has yet identified how it will get there.
If such a plan exists, it wasn’t revealed today after a meeting between McKenna and her provincial and territorial counterparts in Ottawa, although she says progress was made in identifying possible targets for protection.
McKenna also says some of the $1.3 billion for nature protections announced in the recent budget will start to flow this summer, with money available to provinces, territories, Indigenous governments and non-profits to push forward protection projects that are ready to go.
It has been eight years since Canada committed under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity to protect 17 per cent of its land and fresh water by 2020. A year ago, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society warned Canada was lagging behind most of the rest of the world in meeting that goal.
Canada still has to find a way to protect about 650,000 square kilometres of land — an area roughly the size of Saskatchewan — and the process to set aside protected lands can be lengthy and complicated.
Alison Woodley, national director of conservation at the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, says today’s meeting and the fact money is starting to flow are good steps forward, even if there is a long way to go.
The Canadian Press