One in four - or nearly 24 per cent - of Canada's tree species are at risk, according to a new report by the Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) and Shape of Nature initiative.
Canada is home to 234 tree species. The highest concentrations of the 57 at-risk species are in Ontario and southern B.C., where widespread clearing has fragmented forests. Struggling species include trees from the pine, birch, cottonwood, hickory, oak, ash, and rose families, among others.
Of those 57, half are listed as a global concern.
“For a country so closely identified with forests, this is alarming news,” says Dan Kraus who led the assessment for WCS in a statement.
“Trees are the foundation of forests and many other ecosystems, providing food, shelter, and nesting or denning sites for wildlife. Losing the diversity of trees is devastating for the ecosystems and the species that depend on them. In less than one generation we’re seeing the richness and diversity of Canada’s trees slipping away."
A breakdown of where Canada's at-risk trees are located. (WCS)
How to help
Kraus says there are steps that can be taken to protect Canada's trees:
Help identify rare tree habitats and support their conservation.
Replant a diverse range of native tree and plant species.
Support conservation research initiatives.
Learn about other initiatives in the WCS assessment. “For a country with a maple leaf on its flag, we have to do a better job of standing by our trees,” Kraus says.
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Thumbnail image courtesy of Canva Pro.