Biodiversity Summit: Revelations

During the course of our two-day 2012 Summit, we encouraged participants to provide us with their ideas, suggestions, and questions on the topic of Biodiversity. Their comments were captured under the headings of “Revelations”, “Solutions”, and “Questions Unanswered”; they are provided below for public consideration and to help continue the dialogue.



In Muskoka, surrounded by nature, we may develop a false sense of security that we do not have to worry about biodiversity loss. We have an OPPORTUNITY to be PROACTIVE through policy and actions to protect what we have, before it is lost.

Muskoka will be key to evolutionary rescue of species because it is the Land Between that is home to many species living on either the northern or southern margin of their range.

We need to make sure we are acting on what we already know. There is the risk of studying the problem instead of doing something about it – like studying the Titanic while it sinks instead of launching the lifeboats!

Proof of biodiversity loss has already been established. Rather than the burden of proof being on science, the burden should be placed on policy makers and the lay person to accept responsibility for their actions over a spatial and temporal scale. Proof of something does not lead directly to change and this connection needs to be made.

[re. J. Kerr]  The perception that [we] must “change everything” to make progress.  Very useful avenue to pursue.  People feel reversing climate change will make our society unrecognizable. His example was reclaiming habitat on marginal farmland for low cost & little loss of agricultural production.

Change doesn’t have to start with youth of today or the next generation; 50+ aged people have 20-40 years to change things.

The will to create positive change exists on nearly every front. We all just need to start speaking the same language and use that voice to prevent further irresponsible government policy from hitting the ground. Collective responsibility. The knowledge is there! Listen! . . . can it be that simple?

Closely examine government plans to create protected areas . . . they come with dangerous ulterior motives.

The new baseline = death by a thousand cuts.

Short term vs. long term perspective: Harper just said exactly this when referring to European issues . . . .”Europe needs to stop dealing with jumping from one crisis to the next & start thinking long term” – very applicable to biodiversity issue.

Landowners will not allow many peripheral alternative land uses since the legal framework will permanently alter their ability to direct their uses/future uses of the land (i.e., heritage trail establishment on private lands “Bruce Trail”).

Until we measure the right things, there will always be an inexorable slant towards the optimal measure of the evaluation criteria in use (i.e., GDP). We must insist on reworking the externalities into the evaluation system. This is an absolute necessity and failure to address will merely serve to prolong the degradation of our natural systems. This is a philosophical decision and can be made consciously.

These statistics in the environment are ignored or deemed “good enough” but in the stock market would be the no. 1 priority. But once we lose a species, no amount of money can bring it back.

Violent dislocation of our economic underpinnings will result without immediate change to policies that ecological systems manage.

Economic value [needs] to be assigned to natural capital.

All species have intrinsic value and value to ecosystems, regardless of whether they are valuable to humans or not; therefore, all biodiversity is worthy of protection.

We tend to protect pieces of ecosystems (e.g., wetlands, SAR) but even common species and habitats are important and need landscape level protection.  The brown bat and rusty patch bumblebee show how quickly a common species can become endangered, give the right stressors.


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