Eastern Pondhawk Dragonfly © Claire Bennett

Biodiversity Action Plan

In June 2024, the City of Hamilton’s Planning Committee unanimously voted to approve the Biodiversity Action Plan! Thank you to everyone who was involved in the development of this significant document. Read the final version – “A Five-Year Biodiversity Action Plan for Hamilton, 2024.”

Led by the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club, the partners have created a local, custom plan to protect, explore, connect, and restore Hamilton’s biodiversity for future generations.

 

What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth. It includes the complex relationships and interactions that all living things, including people, plants, animals, fungi and bacteria, have with one another and their environment. All species, including humans, are connected and depend on one another to survive. Places with high biodiversity are healthier, more resilient and more resistant to short- and long-term threats.

Biodiversity is everywhere. It’s on land and in water, in forests, in parks and around our homes. You’ll find biodiversity not only on protected and rural lands but also in the most densely populated and developed areas of a city, including spots like balcony planters and garden beds. Biodiversity is interconnected and even the smallest spaces in a city can provide habitat and connections for local plants, insects and wildlife.

Healthy biodiverse areas provide ecosystem services, such as flood management by storing water, climate change mitigation by sequestering carbon, clean air and water by filtering harmful particulates and food production through pollination. Biodiverse areas also provide recreational and spiritual opportunities that support the health and well-being of the community.

Why does it matter to you?
Unfortunately, we are experiencing a global biodiversity crisis.

The Global Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) states that “around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades, unless action is taken to reduce the intensity of drivers of biodiversity loss.” Sir Robert Watson, chair of the IPBES and former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, pointedly titled his associated op-ed “Loss of biodiversity is just as catastrophic as climate change.”

Scientists agree that anthropogenic (human) activities have led us into the midst of the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history. Consistent with global and provincial trends, Hamilton’s biodiversity is threatened primarily by habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species, pollution and climate change.

Global biodiversity loss continues to accelerate, resulting in the breakdown of natural systems and threatening humanity’s existence. Canadians are facing a growing list of complex issues associated with global biodiversity loss in addition to the loss of species: food insecurity, reduced water quality, poor human health, reduced municipal resilience to natural disasters and climate emergencies, and significant harm to economies.

However, there is hope. The 2019 IBPES report ends on this key message, urging us to take immediate action for our environment: “Nature can be conserved, restored, and used sustainably while other global societal goals are simultaneously met through urgent and concerted efforts to fostering transformative change.” By working collaboratively we have the ability to conserve and enhance biodiversity. Hamilton needs to be resilient to climate change and biodiversity loss in order to protect local biodiversity for future generations. A multi-partnered Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) for Hamilton has been created to guide collective organizational and individual actions that will benefit local biodiversity for the long-term. Let’s take action together.

Key Elements of the Biodiversity Action Plan

Hamilton’s Biodiversity Action Plan outlines the actions needed to protect and enhance biodiversity within Hamilton to ensure our community remains a healthy, biodiverse place for people to live, work, visit, or invest and for plants and animals to thrive.

Achieving the identified key priorities and actions in the BAP will build on Hamilton’s successful history of collaboration, innovation and project scaling to protect biodiversity from the impacts of a growing city. The BAP fills existing gaps and complements existing strategies, plans and activities, while also supporting the work of current projects by local environment-focused organizations. It aligns with existing local, provincial, federal and international goals and commitments that move toward global sustainability. 

Hamilton’s Biodiversity Action Plan aims to:

  • Protect biodiversity by incorporating best practices to protect natural areas and greenspaces in policy, guidelines and land management plans and by identifying funding strategies that support the protection and enhancement of the natural environment.
  • Explore, educate and exchange information about biodiversity through partnerships, community science and outreach.
  • Connect partner policies, processes, data and workflows to streamline efforts to support biodiversity in Hamilton.
  • Restore biodiversity across Hamilton by implementing nature-based stewardship activities on public and private land.