Study reveals Canada needs to protect more land

View of Georgian Bay, located on the Bruce Pen...
View of Georgian Bay, located on the Bruce Peninsula, in Southern Ontario. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Toronto – A landmark study of Canadian environmental charities released by Charity Intelligence Canada (Ci) shows that while a number of Canadian environmental charities are effective in helping protect land, habitat and wildlife, Canada as a whole lags behind other countries in key areas.

The study highlights the fact that only 12% of Canada’s land surface is protected, ranking 16th out of 30 OECD countries. In comparison, the United States protects 24% of its land.

“Our country is blessed with an abundance of land, oceans and lakes,” said John Grandy, an investment research analyst, environmentalist and the study’s principal author. “And yet we are extracting more from the environment than is sustainable, leaving our country in jeopardy.”

The study found that despite criticisms of the current federal government, Ottawa remains a major funder of many Canadian environmental organizations. In 2010, the federal and provincial governments combined contributed $372 million to environmental charities, whilst Canadian donors gave over $286 million, supporting more than 1,000 registered environmental charities.

“Canadians are donating to environmental charities; however, their generosity only adds up to 2% of total charitable giving,” said John Grandy. “Canadians need to step up, donate and show a true commitment towards helping preserve and grow our precious natural heritage.”

Charity Intelligence’s analysis finds that environmental charities that collaborate tend to achieve higher tangible results. “We believe environmental charities need to be realistic in terms of what can be achieved,” said Grandy. “For example, more than simply advocating and pointing out environmental problems, charities can harness their expertise and propose practical solutions that work. We found excellent charities doing this ground work.”

The core focus of the study is an analysis of Canadian environmental charities. The report highlights the work of seven “Top Pick” organizations: Bruce Trail Conservancy, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Ecotrust Canada, Nature Canada, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada and Wildlife Preservation Canada.

“Canadians are inundated by charities asking for money. It’s time consuming and often difficult to look beyond the heart-tugging photos and stories, to get the facts about what charities actually do,” said Kate Bahen, Managing Director, Charity Intelligence. “Ci’s environmental report provides an independent analysis on the state of Canada’s most pressing environmental issues and identifies the charities that are working most effectively to make a difference. It challenges Canadians to look beyond the surface, get the facts about what charities do, how they spend donor money, and the results they achieve.”

The report examines five categories of environmental programs, including land conservation, habitat preservation, wildlife protection, the conservation economy and advocacy. The two top areas of focus were land and wildlife conservation.

The report details the growth of land trusts, which have employed innovative models to protect ecosystems and biodiversity. In this category, Ci’s Top Picks include the Bruce Trail Conservancy, which is dedicated to protecting the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. It also chose Nature Conservancy of Canada who has protected over one million hectares of land with a book value of over $500 million.

Almost every environmental charity in Canada has wildlife protection as part of their mission, but only a few organizations focus specifically on protecting endangered species. The two charities highlighted in the report are: Wildlife Conservation Society Canada and Wildlife Preservation Canada.

The study also looked at several important, well-known charities dedicated to advocacy, including organizations like Pollution Probe and the David Suzuki Foundation. Nature Canada, one of the country’s oldest environmental organizations is singled out as a Top Pick in this category. Its unique strength comes from its 350 member naturalist clubs focused on education and its 46,000 members which it leverages to successfully lobby for new parks, endangered species legislation and habitat protection.

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