Read about my research.
Biodiversity is just all the living things in in our land or our lakes or ocean and rivers so when we talk about biodiversity we mean the network or the interconnectedness of nature. Not just the fact that we have sea otters or whales or bears, but also the fact that they all have relationships through feeding, through habitat, through their migrations. I'm Mary O'Connor I'm a marine biodiversity scientist in the Zoology Department and in the Biodiversity Research Centre at UBC. I'm co-leading, with Andy Gonzalez, a working group to put forth a first suggestion for a technical design for CANBON [Canadian Biodiversity Observation Network] for Canada.
Biodiversity is always changing. We have natural events that are disasters. We have natural events that are really good in nature and lead to new species or population growth and of course our human history in this country has involved very close relationships with biodiversity through food, cultural identities, spirituality, and all kinds of of other things. We also know really well now that everything's changing really fast. Global change, which really means sort of a global economy, industrial development in our coasts and in our land, as well as climate change which is reflecting things that are happening outside of Canada and outside of BC. All these things together are having massive impacts on the nature in BC and the biodiversity. The problem is: we know what's happening; citizens are seeing it, children are seeing it, grandparents are seeing it, scientists are seeing it, and policy makers, people in government are seeing it, but we do not have a way formally to compare these observations. We know there's a lot of change but we're really not set up right now to answer questions like: how much change? is it bad? what's going to happen next? CANBON is a BON. A biodiversity observation network is a system that would allow us to consolidate that knowledge, those observations of change, and would allow us to be in a position to be very concrete about [questions like]: are things getting better? are they getting worse? what can we do to make things better? It would do that by bringing together people with scientific observations, personal observations, cultural records, all kinds of information on how biodiversity has changed.
My name is Andrew Gonzalez I am professor in the Department of Biology at McGill University. I'm also the co-director of the Quebec Center for Biodiversity Science and I am the co-chair of GEOBON the Group on Earth Observations for the Biodiversity Observation Network. A Canada BON would bring many benefits to Canadians. For example it's a remarkable opportunity to educate and to train the next generation of biodiversity scientists who want to understand how Canada's biodiversity is changing. For example there are new methods new technologies for tracking biodiversity such as environmental DNA, using drones to take images of how biodiversity is changing across landscapes, [and] new satellites that are orbiting the Earth that are taking images of our ecosystems every day. The idea is we could bring together all these innovative new technologies to better understand how our biodiversity is changing from coast to coast. The Canada Biodiversity Observation Network is also essential for biodiversity policy. It's a way for us to understand whether all the conservation action and restoration that we're doing across Canada is sufficient to assess our progress towards the goals and targets that are being set now by the convention on biological diversity for the coming decades. What we desperately need is new knowledge and new information from across Canada to assess our progress towards those targets.
How can you get involved in this big project? This building of a biodiversity observation network for Canada? One way is to get involved in the many monitoring schemes for biodiversity that we have across the country. They're often associated with particular species types for example monitoring butterflies or bumblebees, but it's also connected to formal monitoring networks. Our provinces all have monitoring schemes and there are opportunities to volunteer or to get involved with research groups, often in our universities, that are working with monetary networks and the scientists that are working day-to-day to gather the data about the status and the trends of our biodiversity.
I guess I can even add, you know, it's not just science, there's massive biodiversity science that we need to do and we're doing, but there's also the the culture of biodiversity and what biodiversity means to people and the artistic expressions of our relationships with biodiversity. Every one of those ways is important to engage with for the ways that work for each of us and I'm hopeful that CANBON at the end of the day could actually include all of those experiences of biodiversity and change in a way that captures our knowledge and also represents where we think we're going.