Agricultural land covers 6.8 per cent of the surface area of Canada. In addition to producing crops, Canadian farms also support wildlife habitat, such as forests, hedgerows, wetlands and streams. There are more than 20 million hectares of pasture alone in the agricultural landscape of Canada, which is important habitat to thousands of species of birds, mammals, reptiles, plants and insects. Natural habitats on farmland not only support wildlife but also provide important ecosystem services, such as pollination, natural pest control, and drought and flood mitigation.
Over the last several decades, agricultural intensification has diminished biodiversity on farmland because it converts land to more concentrated use, which supports far fewer species. Intensification also increases risk of agricultural pollutants flowing into watersheds, which impacts fish and aquatic invertebrates.
We do not believe that conservation of wildlife should happen on the back of farmers. We need better policies that ensure incentives to farmers for maintaining wildlife habitat. Also, we must improve how we share our knowledge about farming practices in order to reduce these risks.
Agricultural Extent Map of Canada
By The Numbers
of Earth's flowering plants rely on pollination by bees and other pollinating insects.
of the surface area of Canada is covered by farmland and hosts 313 species of birds, or 69% of all breeding bird species.
of species at risk in Canada occur on the agricultural landscape.
Leading the Charge
Carolyn Callaghan, PhD, CWF Senior Conservation Biologist, Terrestrial Wildlife
Carolyn Callaghan is a member of the National Environmental Farm Plan Committee, designed to develop and propose a National Environmental Farm Plan for Canada (currently each province has its own Environmental farm Plan and there is no consistent approach).
“Canadian farmers have an important role to play in conserving our wildlife. CWF’s approach is to work collaboratively with farmers and the agricultural industry to ensure that the ecological services offered by habitats and wildlife will continue to benefit both farmers and all Canadians into the future.”
Goal of the Program
This program enables us to take a leadership role in the conservation community on issues of biodiversity conservation in Canadian agricultural policies as well as to develop scientific knowledge of the habitat needs of wildlife on farmland. We aim to engage farming communities, agricultural industry stakeholders, and food consumers in conversations about biodiversity conservation. The outcomes of this program will support farmers in maintaining biodiversity on farmland.
Achievements to Date
We’ve already achieved so much.
- We’ve completed a policy analysis on biodiversity conservation measures in Canadian agricultural policies and provided recommendations for various provincial government departments.
- We have launched a research project on insect pollinator habitat in Norfolk County, Ontario, with a goal of informing farmers about what habitats are most important for supporting wild pollinators.
- We have initiated a farmland bird conservation project, which is designed to work collaboratively with farmers to support habitat for farmland birds.
- Our work in banning neonics has garnered thousands of Canadians’ support and continues forward in an effort to petition the Federal government to ban this pesticide and to provide farmers with less harmful alternatives for managing crop pests.
We’re making great strides in informing the public of the importance of conserving biodiversity on farmland and the role that government policies should play in supporting farmers who maintain or enhance biodiversity.
We’re also participating in the National Environmental Farm Plan Committee, which aims to harmonize the provincial and territorial Environmental Farm Plan programs to produce an outcomes-based, producer-driven national standard that addresses environmental sustainability on Canadian farms.
We’re active in the Green Budget Coalition’s Agricultural Working Group to encourage improved federal budgets related to environmentally sustainable farming in Canada.
How to Help
Ban Neonics Petition
Garden for Wildlife
Build a Hedgerow