What is Biodiversity, and why is it important?
Biodiversity is a term used to describe the number and variety of organisms found within a given geographic region. Ecosystems containing a wide variety of plants and animals tend to be healthier than those with a low level of biodiversity. Making an effort to conserve biodiversity is important because we are reliant on a healthy natural environment for our chief resources including water to drink, food to eat, and air to breathe.
Biodiversity is often viewed as a sign of a healthy environment because complex ecosystems tend to be more stable than environments with less diversity. Healthy ecosystems are dynamic and have the ability to adapt to naturally changing conditions. However, human activity has the potential to disrupt this natural balance. With human-induced, rapidly changing environments, we run the risk of harming our natural environment. Humans disrupt biodiversity in four major ways: habitat degradation and loss, pollution, introduction of invasive species, and unsustainable use of resources.
Please click here to read Conservation Halton’s Viewpoint on Watershed Biodiversity.
What is Conservation Halton doing about Biodiversity?
Conservation Halton is committed to conserving native biodiversity through activities such as protection of natural heritage systems, the creation of wildlife corridors, and increased public awareness. CH is also involved in raising awareness about Invasive Species that threaten Biodiversity, as well as protecting and preserving Species at Risk in our region.
CH is also dedicated to making informed decisions regarding the management and rehabilitation of our natural resources. In 2005, the Long-Term Environmental Monitoring Program was formalized to guide the collection of information on species, ecosystems and changes to the environment over time. Designed to monitor species, ecosystems and changes to the watershed over time, it ensures that Conservation Halton’s mission of “protecting and enhancing the natural environment from lake to escarpment for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations” is being fulfilled. It helps ecologists and land use planners in obtaining the quantitative information they need to establish targets and make informed decisions for the planning, management and/or rehabilitation of our natural resources. Good data is of great assistance in making decisions regarding biodiversity.
Some major threats to biodiversity in our watershed include habitat fragmentation and destruction, invasive species, and pollution. Increased population growth can have a major effect on biodiversity through habitat loss. To maintain a high level of biodiversity in Halton’s watersheds, it is important that growth is managed in a proactive and environmentally responsible manner. Conservation Halton plays a major role in environmental planning through our Regulations and Policies. Please see this link on our Planning and Permits section for an understanding of our role in reviewing development applications, Official Plans, Comprehensive Zoning By-Laws and Watershed Studies.
Invasive Species and Biodiversity - Many invasive species will aggressively out compete and damage native species, lowering overall biodiversity. Invasive plants will frequently reduce biodiversity to such an extent that only a monotypic community remains where the invasive is the only plant growing.
CH is actively involved in preventing the spread of Invasive Species, please click here to go to Conservation Halton’s webpage on Invasive Species.
CH also has a number of Viewpoints and Factsheets on Invasive Species, which can be found on this webpage.
Species at Risk – Conservation Halton is involved in protecting and preserving the Species at Risk in our watershed. “Species at Risk” is a designation given to plant and animal species that are threatened with extinction, extirpation or endangerment in a given geographic region. Species at Risk in Halton Region include mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, and a variety of plants.
Please click here to go to Conservation Halton’s webpage on Species at Risk, where you will also reporting forms and links to other federal and provincial resources.
CH offers several education, outreach and volunteer programs to help raise awareness, as well as enhance and protect the biodiversity of our watershed. Some examples of this include a Bioblitz, annual tree planting day, Halton Children’s Water Festival, Stream of Dreams program, Raptor education programs, Climate change programs, and more. We welcome the engagement of our watershed community in helping us achieve our goals. Please sign up for our monthly newsletter and check out our Events Calendar or Education and Outreach pages to find out how you can get involved and support us!
More Resources on Biodiversity
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – Located in Montreal, Quebec, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) entered into force on 29 December 1993. It has 3 main objectives:
1. The conservation of biological diversity
2. The sustainable use of the components of biological diversity
3. The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources
Please click here to go to the Convention on Biological Diversity website.
International Year of Biodiversity – the United Nations declared 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity, and people all over the world marked the occasion by working to safeguard this irreplaceable natural wealth and reduce biodiversity loss. You can go to the International Year of Biodiversity website to learn more about what happened in 2010 and what the next steps are.
Biodivcanada.ca – This is the website of the federal, provincial and territorial working group on biodiversity, which was established following Canada's ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity in December, 1992. Please click here to go to the Biodivcanada.ca website.
Ontario's Biodiversity Council – The Ontario Biodiversity Council was created to guide the implementation of Protecting what sustains us...Ontario's Biodiversity Strategy. Council members come from a variety of different backgrounds and represent industry, government and non-governmental organizations, Aboriginal communities, and conservation and environmental groups. Please click here to go to the Ontario Biodiversity Council’s website.
Ontario’s Biodiversity Strategy – Under the direction of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, this strategy was developed with the help of many Ontario individuals and organizations in the hope of reversing the trend towards the loss of biodiversity in Ontario. The strategy helps Ontario do its part in relation to the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Please click here to go to the Ontario Biodiversity webpage on the Ministry of Natural Resources website.
Biodiversity and Education Awareness Network (BEAN) - BEAN is a collaborative network of groups and individuals representing private industry, formal and non-formal education, government, the environment and conservation. Please click here to go to the BEAN website.