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.