The current biodiversity crisis requires immediate innovative, and coordinated recovery action to meet Canada’s targets for biodiversity conservation.  In today’s world, where human activity is impacting all life around us, the view that species can be saved only by creating large areas of protected habitat is unrealistic.  Now more than ever there is an increasing need for human intervention to prevent further loss of species. We must consider the full complement of tools available to us, and apply them strategically if we are to be successful. 

WPC’s hands-on techniques are an essential part of recovery efforts for many Canadian species.  We have kept the eastern loggerhead shrike from disappearing and increased the chances of survival for the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly, reintroduced to their historic ranges through the efforts of our conservation breeding and release programs.  Conservation breeding is an example of ex situ conservation, where activities occur outside of a species natural habitat. Although accepted by most other countries around the world, ex situ management techniques are still not widely accepted within the conservation community in Canada, the focus being almost exclusively on recovery activities with wild populations in situ, in their natural habitats.   However, when used strategically, these methods can be a key tool for species conservation that complements field conservation efforts. The key to success is integration of efforts!

Founded in partnership by WPC and African Lion Safari, the Canadian Species Initiative will strengthen species recovery planning and implementation in Canada by promoting and applying an integrated approach to conservation, or the One Plan Approach.  Promoted by the Conservation Planning Specialist Group, part of the Species Survival Commission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the One Plan Approach bridges the gap between wild and captive population management. Key to the success of this process is ensuring full participation by all stakeholders from the planning stages, including field biologists, wildlife managers, land managers, governments, academics, and the zoo and aquarium community. The full complement of knowledge, skills, and strengths are brought together using a range of proven planning tools and workshop processes to identify the most effective conservation actions. Many of WPC’s existing projects already serve as excellent models. In recognition of WPC’s expertise in this area, the Canadian Species Initiative now serves as a Regional Resource Center in Canada for the IUCN Conservation Planning Specialist Group.

 The need is urgent. Of Canada’s 208 endemic species – those found nowhere else outside of Canada – nearly 40% have been ranked globally as Critically Imperiled.  Canada has full responsibility to conserve this special group, with nothing less than extinction being the consequence of failure.  By integrating the skills and resources of the zoo and aquarium community during recovery strategy development, we will give these species a better chance for a future in the wild. The Canadian Species Initiative will bring together people from all backgrounds and across all partner organizations, ex situ and in situ, to ensure that all potential recovery actions are used to the fullest, and Canada’s unique biodiversity is preserved for generations to come.

Jessica Steiner

Conservation Programs Director

Jessica joined WPC in 2006 as shrike field biologist in the Carden area. The following year she began managinging all aspects of WPC’s Loggerhead Shrike Recovery Program in Ontario as Species Recovery Biologist. In 2014 she became WPC’s Conservation Programs Director, overseeing all species recovery projects. Jessica studied Zoology at the University of Guelph and earned a Master’s of Applied Science in Wildlife Health and Population Management from the University of Sydney, Australia.