Search for "Environment"

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Breakwater

A breakwater is a structure built along a shore or offshore, approximately parallel to a shoreline. Some breakwaters float at the water’s surface, while bottom-resting models may emerge from the surface or lie entirely underwater. Breakwaters are different from dikes because they allow some water flow and do not seal off one portion of a water body from another.

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Coniferous Trees

Sometimes called evergreens, most coniferous trees keep their foliage year-round. There are over 600 living species of conifers, and while there is some debate over how many are native to Canada, the number is approximately 30.

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Plant Gene Resources of Canada

Plant Gene Resources of Canada (PGRC) is part of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. As Canada’s national seed gene bank it protects, preserves and enhances the genetic diversity of Canada’s important agricultural plants and their wild relatives (see Genetics; Seed Plants). Since its foundation in 1970, PGRC has played a major role in protecting Canada’s agricultural crops (see Agriculture in Canada). In doing so, it also helps protect biodiversity, which is disappearing in many places, and contributes towards food security at home and around the world. (See also Food insecurity in Canada.)

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

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Forestry

Forestry is the science and practice of caring for forests. Both the meaning and practice of forestry in Canada have evolved over time.

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Urbanization

Urbanization is a complex process in which a country's population centres tend to become larger, more specialized and more interdependent over time.

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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.)

Interactive Map

National Parks of Canada Interactive Map

The map below indicates the location of national parks and national park reserves in Canada. Click on individual points to learn a park’s name and the year it was established. Canada’s national parks and national park reserves are protected areas established under federal legislation. They aim to preserve Canada’s natural heritage. There are 48 national parks and national park reserves in Canada. (See also National Parks of Canada.)

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Montreal Protocol

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, known simply as the Montreal Protocol, is an international environmental agreement. It regulates the consumption and production of approximately 100 man-made, ozone-depleting chemicals. The Montreal Protocol is so named because it was initially signed in Montreal on 16 September 1987. To date, the Montreal Protocol is the only United Nations treaty that every country in the world has ratified.

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Environmental Movement in Canada

The environmental movement seeks to protect the natural world and promote sustainable living. It had its beginnings in the conservation efforts of the early 1900s. During this time, conservationists aimed to slow the rapid depletion of Canadian resources in favour of more regulated management. Many scholars divide the evolution of the environmental movement into “waves.” These waves are periods in time easily characterized by certain themes. While the number of waves and their characterization may differ from scholar to scholar, they’re often defined as follows: The first wave focused on conservation; the second, pollution; the third, the professionalization of environmental groups; and the fourth, climate change.

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Environmental Racism in Canada

Environmental racism is the disproportionate proximity and greater exposure of Indigenous, Black and other racialized communities to polluting industries and environmentally hazardous activities. In Canada, Indigenous and African Nova Scotian communities have been the most impacted by environmental racism. Examples of environmental racism in Nova Scotia include an open dump in Africville, landfills in Shelburne and Lincolnville, a pulp and paper mill in Pictou Landing First Nation, and a pipeline in Sipekne’katik First Nation. A pipeline also runs through Wet'suwet'en First Nation in British Columbia, while in Ontario there is mercury contamination in Grassy Narrows First Nation and over 60 petrochemical facilities surrounding Aamjiwnaang First Nation.

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Rattlesnake

Rattlesnake is the common name for about 30 species of venomous, viperid snakes in the genera Crotalus and Sistrurus, found from southern Canada to South America. Three species of rattlesnake are found in Canada: the Western rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganous), the prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridus) and the Eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus). Another species, the timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) is extirpated, meaning the species no longer exists in the wild in Canada, but lives elsewhere.

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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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Invasive Species in Canada: Animals

Invasive species are any species that have, primarily with human help, become established in a new ecosystem. While it’s impossible to say exactly how many invasive species are living in Canada, in 2002 researchers estimated that at least 1,442 invasive species — including fish, plants, insects and invertebrates — now live in the country’s farmlands, forests and waterways. The complex environmental impacts of so many invasive species is unknown and, maybe, unknowable. Typically, non-natives are feared for their ability to reproduce much faster than native species and outcompete natives for food, habitat and other resources. Economically, invasive species are estimated to cost Canadians billions of dollars each year in lost revenue from natural resources and impacts on ecosystem services.

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Air Pollution Could Increase Rates of Mental Health Issues, Study Finds

An international study published in the open-source journal PLOS Biology found a correlation between high levels of air pollution and higher rates of biploar disorder and depression. (See also: Mental Health.) Examining data from the United States and Denmark, the researchers found that geographic areas with the worst air quality were associated with a 29 per cent increase in rates of bipolar disorder, a 148 per cent increase in schizophrenia and a 50 per cent increase in cases of depression.

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Invasive Species in Canada: Plants

Invasive species are any species that have, primarily with human help, become established in a new ecosystem. While it’s impossible to say exactly how many invasive species are living in Canada, in 2002 researchers estimated that at least 1,442 invasive species — including fish, plants, insects and invertebrates — now live in the country’s farmlands, forests and waterways. The complex environmental impacts of so many invasive species is unknown and, maybe, unknowable. Typically, non-natives are feared for their ability to reproduce much faster than native species and outcompete natives for food, habitat and other resources. Economically, invasives are estimated to cost Canadians billions of dollars each year in lost revenue from natural resources and impacts on ecosystem services.

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Grassy Narrows

Grassy Narrows, ON, is the common name for both a reserve and an Ojibwe First Nation. The reserve, legally known as English River Indian Reserve 21, is just over 41 km2 of land located about 55 km northeast of Kenora. There are 1,594 registered members of Grassy Narrows First Nation (also known as Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek), 971 of whom live on-reserve (2019). Grassy Narrows is a signatory to Treaty 3.

Approximately 90 per cent of Grassy Narrows residents suffer from mercury poisoning. The poisoning is the result of Dryden Chemicals Ltd. dumping mercury into the English-Wabigoon river system between 1962 and 1970. The effects of the pollution are ongoing, and have also affected Whitedog First Nation (also known as Wabaseemoong Independent Nations).