Deadly heat waves, wildfires, species in decline, super storms — these are the calling cards of a planet in crisis, and the next decade is critical. If we don’t rebuild our relationship with nature, we will be on an irreversible path toward the destruction of ecosystems, severe climate disruption and the extinction of more than one million species worldwide.
But the future of the planet isn’t a foregone conclusion — this is not a done deal. We can still keep climate change and biodiversity loss from reaching catastrophic levels if we act now, and if we use one of the most effective tools around: nature.
We sat down with WWF-Canada president and CEO Megan Leslie to discuss Regenerate Canada, our comprehensive new conservation strategy to reverse what once seemed “irreversible.”
What does Regenerate Canada mean?
The planet is facing two crises: climate change and biodiversity loss, or the loss of nature and wildlife. Regenerate Canada is our 10-year plan to reverse wildlife loss and bring back nature while also fighting climate change.
Wildlife is on the decline because they’re running out of habitat. They’re losing the places they find food and water, where they give birth and raise their young, where they rest during migration and where they hibernate.
To reverse wildlife loss, we need to reverse nature loss. That’s why WWF-Canada is working to restore at least one million hectares of degraded habitat and protect and steward at least 100 million hectares of ecologically rich ecosystems.
And the incredible thing is that those ecosystems also store carbon. So, while we protect, steward and restore nature, we’ll also reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by 30 megatonnes.
Drawing on scientific research and Indigenous guidance, all of our conservation efforts will drive toward these three ambitious goals designed to get our future back on track.
Why did we need a 10-year plan?
The next 10 years are critical. We’ve all seen the horrific headlines confirming what international scientists have been telling us – climate change is here, biodiversity loss is happening, and if we don’t set a path for nature’s recovery, we’ll continue on an irreversible course.
The first answer to your question is: we have to act now if we’re going to reverse our path. The second answer because conservation results don’t happen overnight. Sometimes it takes years to see the impact.
With short-term planning you can focus on the trees and miss the forest. So, by setting a 10-year plan with shorter three-year milestones, we can think big! And big ideas and actions are what we’ll need if we are to be successful.
How is WWF-Canada’s work changing?
We’re still focused on recovering wildlife — after all, wildlife is our middle name. And we’re still doing that by protecting and restoring habitats for species in decline. What’s changing is that almost everything we do is designed to benefit both wildlife and climate. We’re doing this because it’s necessary — science has proven that the two feed each other — and because it’s efficient to tackle multiple issues at once.
Indigenous-led conservation and Indigenous knowledge is featured heavily in the plan. Why is it so important?
Conservation and Indigenous rights are inextricably connected. I had the privilege of hearing Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon speak recently and he talked about the importance of wildlife in Omushkego Cree territory, and he said that if they lose the wildlife they also lose their way of life and they lose their language. Words disappear. Culture disappears.
Indigenous-led conservation is the most equitable approach, and it’s also one of the most effective — studies have shown that Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas have more biodiversity than other protected areas.
We’re proud to support Indigenous communities and organizations in their incredible conservation work ranging from protecting orcas from ship strikes and restoring salmon habitat to keeping carbon stocks safe from development, restoring wildfire-damaged forests, and protecting and stewarding important landscapes and seascapes.
What’s the one takeaway you hope people come away with?
That there is still time, that it’s not too late. If we act now — with ambition, dedication and collaboration — we can reverse that course together.
What can people do to help?
Want to get started right now? Here are four quick things you can do:
Find out more. Sign up to receive updates at wwf.ca and follow our social channels: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter AND TikTok.
Spread the word. Share this post or our “irREVERSIBLE” social media posts and video with your friends and ask them to join you in becoming a part of Regenerate Canada.
Get involved. We have programs for everyone: students, teachers, workplaces and individuals. Find one that’s right for you!
Donate if you’re able. We have awesome programs and projects that are making a big difference and none of it is possible without the support of our donors. Let’s do this!