Toronto’s First Biodiversity Strategy

On October 3rd, Toronto City Council unanimously passed the City’s first Biodiversity Strategy. The Strategy aims to support healthier, more robust biodiversity and increased awareness of nature in Toronto. The Strategy recognizes biodiversity as fundamental to supporting the livability and resilience of the city.

At a global scale, the loss of biodiversity has reached crisis levels. A 2019 report from the United Nations highlighted the unprecedented decline of nature, at a rate “never before seen before in human history”. The Report also suggests that it is not too late to make a difference but we need to start now at every level from the local to the global. Cities have a significant role to play to ensure local action is taken to protect and restore natural areas, design the built environment to consider nature, and engage citizens in biodiversity recovery.

Like most urban areas, Toronto has experienced severe biodiversity loss as the city grew and many natural areas were replaced first with farmland and later with urban development. Across the City, habitat loss, invasive species, climate change and human activities all threaten our native plants and animals. Nevertheless, Toronto still has a rich variety of biodiversity concentrated along the freshwater shoreline, in the ravine system and in smaller pockets like green roofs and private yards. More than 8,595 hectares – 13.5% of the City – have been identified in Toronto’s Natural Heritage System and more than 700 green roofs have been created across the City since 2009.

The Biodiversity Strategy was developed through extensive consultation with the public, external stakeholders and an expert Advisory Group, in partnership with the Parks Forestry and Recreation Division, the Environment and Energy Division and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. The Strategy builds on and reinforces the work of the Pollinator Protection Strategy, Ravine Strategy, Strategic Forest Management Plan, and Resilience Strategy.

The Toronto Biodiversity Strategy aims to address biodiversity loss in Toronto and advance the City’s role as a leader in protecting and restoring nature. The Strategy integrates existing and proposed work across City Divisions and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority to maximize effectiveness in the protection and enhancement of biodiversity. The Strategy outlines a vision for the City, a set of 10 guiding principles and 23 specific actions. The actions aim to enhance the quality and quantity of biodiversity and increase awareness of nature in Toronto.

To learn more about Toronto’s Biodiversity Strategy, please visit Biodiversity in the City.

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