12 August 2010

The State of Biodiversity Information in Canada

NatureServe Canada recently released a report on the state of biodiversity information in Canada. By looking at sources of accessible data, including those of NatureServe Canada, this report reveals gaps in Canada?s information holdings.

Some highlights:

1. Canada does not have ready access to the biodiversity information needed to understand its natural heritage or assess the shared outcomes set out in Canada ’s Biodiversity Outcomes Framework.
2. Canada has significant data holdings for some taxonomic groups (e.g., birds, mammals), largely developed in response to legislative priorities or opportunistic data gathering efforts, yet, in most cases, that information is inaccessible or inconsistent.
3. Canada lacks both an understanding of its species diversity and a national inventory program designed to develop primary information for known species.
4. Canada does not have a national biomonitoring system that works across scales and builds on existing initiatives, nor the depth of interpretive expertise required to monitor ecological change. Canada needs to invest in biomonitoring and mapping (including remote-sensing and other related technologies).
5. Canada lacks investments in taxonomic expertise (capacity) and digitized data (presently held as “hard-copy” in Canadian collections). It is ill-prepared to respond to issues like species extinction potentials, invasive species, and climate change.
6. Canada needs to promote biodiversity information sharing and access, including one or more common repositories, and remove cultural and institutional barriers that keep information fragmented.
7. Canada needs to complete efforts to classify and map ecological communities (wetlands, grasslands, arctic tundra, etc.) as a complement to species data, and as a means of exploring and enhancing its understanding of Canadian ecosystems.
8. Canada ’s approach to biodiversity information management must be based on a strategy that recognizes the shared, multi-jurisdictional mandate and responsibility for biodiversity conservation.
9. Canada needs an effective national biodiversity information partnership among federal, provincial, and territorial agencies that includes non-government, academic, aboriginal groups, and the business community.
10. Institutions in other countries, in particular the United States , publish more primary information about Canadian biodiversity than Canada does.

Download the report (PDF)

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