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Sustainable Development

Sustainable development has been defined by the United Nations (UN) as development that “meets the needs of the present” while ensuring the future sustainability of the planet, its people and its resources. Meeting these needs often requires balancing three key features of sustainable development: environmental protection, economic growth and social inclusion. The goals of sustainable development are interconnected. The most successful sustainable development projects will include environmental, economic and social considerations in their final plan. These considerations must include the free, prior and informed consent of any Indigenous groups impacted by a sustainable development project.

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Flea

Fleas are very small, wingless, laterally flattened insects of the order Siphonaptera. They’re best known for being external parasites on mammals and occasionally birds. Adult fleas live in the fur or feathers of their hosts, feeding on their blood to survive and reproduce. While fleas do feed off humans, more common host animals include rodents, dogs and cats. The “human” flea, Pulex irritans, actually attacks a broad range of mammal species, and the same is true of most flea species that bite humans. About 2,000 species and subspecies are known worldwide, with at least 127 found in Canada, most of them in British Columbia and Alberta.

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Beaver

The beaver (Castor canadensis) is a herbivorous mammal. It is Canada’s largest rodent and the second-largest rodent in the world (after the capybara). It is primarily nocturnal and lives a semi-aquatic life. The beaver is one of the only mammals, other than humans, that can manufacture its own environment. It is known for building dams, canals and lodges. Its colonies are created by one or more beaver-built dams, which provide still and deep water for protection against predators. An emblem of Canada older than the maple leaf, the beaver has had a greater impact on Canadian history and exploration than any other animal or plant species. (See also Fur Trade in Canada.)

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Dinosaur Eggs

Members of the Central Asiatic Expedition, led by the American Museum of Natural History, first recognized dinosaur eggs in Mongolia in the 1920s. Since then, paleontologists have discovered fossilized remains of dinosaur eggs at over 200 locations worldwide. These locations include sites in Africa, China, Europe, India, Korea, and the Americas. The first dinosaur eggs from North America were discovered in Montana in the late 1970s. In Canada, dinosaur eggshell fragments were initially found in the early 1980s. Complete dinosaur eggs were discovered in 1987 at a site in southern Alberta known as Devil’s Coulee.

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Montreal Metro

The Montreal metro opened on 14 October 1966. The second Canadian subway system after Toronto’s, which opened in 1954, the Montreal metro was the first subway in North America to run on rubber tires instead of metal wheels. Extensions to the Montreal metro were built on Montreal Island over the two decades after it opened, and then to the city of Laval, on the island of Île Jésus, during the 2000s. The system runs entirely underground, and each station has a distinct architecture and design. The Montreal metro consists of four lines running a total of 71 km and serving 68 stations. In 2018, its passengers made more than 383 million trips.

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Endangered Plants in Canada

A species is endangered if there are threats to its survival. Plants are put at risk for several reasons, including: climate change and the loss of natural habitat to cities, agriculture and industry. In Canada, these activities threaten entire natural ecosystems, such as older forests and Prairie grasslands. As of 2021, 250 plant species are at risk in Canada, according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. In addition, four are extirpated and one is extinct. The committee’s definition of a wildlife species includes taxonomic categories as well as geographically distinct populations. For example, the bent spike-rush (Eleocharis geniculate) is included on the list of at risk plant species twice, as there are two different populations, one in British Columbia and one in Ontario, facing different threats to their survival. (See also Endangered Animals in Canada.)

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Agriculture in Canada

Agriculture is the practice of growing crops and rearing animals mainly for food. Farmers also produce other items such as wool from sheep and CBD oil from hemp plants.

In Canada, agriculture is an important industry. Only about 7 per cent of Canada’s land can be farmed. Other marginal (poorer) land can be used to ranch cattle. Aquaculture operations are found on the East and West Coasts and in the Great Lakes. Some crops such as tomatoes, cannabis and flowers are grown in greenhouses in urban centres. Canadian agriculture faces many challenges. Some of these challenges concern crop protection, soil conservation, labour, climate change and health.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Pesticide

Substances used to control pests include insecticides (for control of insects), fungicides (for disease-causing fungi), herbicides (for weeds), rodenticides (for rodents), avicides (for birds), piscicides (for fish) and nematicides (for nematodes).

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Spirit Bear

Spirit bears are rare white-coated black bears (Ursus americanus kermodei) that live in the coastal temperate rainforests of Northwest British Columbia. Their striking colour is caused by an uncommon recessive genetic trait. Spirit bears are not a unique species or subspecies, but a unique colouration of the coastal British Columbian black bear subspecies kermodei. Referred to as moksgm’ol, meaning “white bear,” by Tsimshian coastal First Nations, spirit bears play an important role in local culture and increasingly in Indigenous-led ecotourism.

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Dinosaurs and Canada

Dinosaurs were a group of animals that dominated the land environments of every continent. They lived from the late Triassic period to the end of the Cretaceous period (225 to 65 million years ago). However, birds are the direct descendants of dinosaurs, meaning dinosaurs are still common today. Paleontologists have found more than 100 different species of dinosaurs in Canada. The primary site of these fossils is Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta. Well-known dinosaurs first named from Canadian specimens include Albertosaurus, Centrosaurus, Corythosaurus, Dromaeosaurus,Gorgosaurus, Lambeosaurus, Pachyrhinosaurus, Parasaurolophusand Styracosaurus.

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Landslide

A landslide is a downward and outward movement of a soil mass that formed part of a slope.

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Endangered Animals in Canada

Many animals in Canada face the risk of extinction. Animals are put at risk for several reasons, including: climate change, the loss of forest and grassland to cities and agriculture, hunting, fishing, and the pollution of lakes and rivers. As of 2021, 554 animal species are at risk in Canada, according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. In addition, 18 are extirpated and 18 extinct. The committee’s definition of a wildlife species includes taxonomic categories as well as geographically distinct populations. For example, the beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas) is included in the list of at risk animal species six times, as there are six different populations facing different threats to their survival. (See also Endangered Plants in Canada.)

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Canadian Arctic Sovereignty

Arctic sovereignty is a key part of Canada’s history and future. The country has 162,000 km of Arctic coastline. Forty per cent of Canada’s landmass is in its three northern territories. Sovereignty over the area has become a national priority for Canadian governments in the 21st century. There has been growing international interest in the Arctic due to resource development, climate change, control of the Northwest Passage and access to transportation routes. As Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in 2008, “The geopolitical importance of the Arctic and Canada’s interests in it have never been greater.”

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Land Cession

A land cession is a transfer of land from one party to another through a deed of sale or surrender. Land cessions may also be referred to as land surrenders and land purchases. In Canada and the United States, Indigenous land cessions generally took place through negotiated treaties. There are cases, however, where Indigenous peoples claim that lands were taken unjustly. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 established the protocols for land cession in both Canada and the United States.

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Moss

Moss is a small terrestrial plant, usually less than 10 cm tall, that lacks true conducting tissues (xylem, phloem) and has a dominant gametophyte (sexual) generation. Mosses are the largest and most highly developed group of division Bryophyta (which also includes liverworts and hornworts). Bryophytes are sometimes known as the “amphibians of the plant world” because of their dependence on water for sexual reproduction. There are over 10,000 species of moss worldwide, of which about 1,250 are found in North America. Individual parts of Canada have fewer species (e.g., 466 species in Alberta, 445 in Newfoundland, 430 in Ontario). Mosses thrive in humid climates, and coastal parts of Canada have a greater diversity than the interior parts.

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Extinct Animals in Canada

As of May 2021, 18 animal species once found in Canada are now extinct, according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The committee’s definition of a wildlife species includes taxonomic categories as well as geographically distinct populations. For example, the Atlantic salmon appears on COSEWIC’s list of at-risk species 15 times, as there are 15 populations of Atlantic salmon in Canada facing different threats to their survival. Similarly, when one of these populations goes extinct — as was the case for Atlantic salmon in Lake Ontario in 1898 — there are specific, cascading effects for the ecosystem that the population belongs to. Communities may lose fishing opportunities and other animals may lose a source of food. Though the Atlantic salmon is an example of a species with populations still observable in the wild, this list of 18 also includes animals that no longer exist anywhere on the planet, such as the sea mink or great auk. The reasons for the extinction of these animals range from overhunting to predation from invasive species to,­ in the case of the Eelgrass limpet, a plight of slime mould.

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Traditional Plants and Indigenous Peoples in Canada

Indigenous peoples in what is now Canada collectively used over a 1,000 different plants for food, medicine, materials, and in cultural rituals and mythology. Many of these species, ranging from algae to conifers and flowering plants, remain important to Indigenous communities today. This knowledge of plants and their uses has allowed Indigenous peoples to thrive in Canada’s diverse environments. Many traditional uses of plants have evolved to be used in modern life by Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples alike. (See also Indigenous Peoples’ Medicine in Canada.)