Canada and the United States are home to a tremendous number of diverse species. However, many species have been lost due to extinction over the years, and others remain threatened today.
Over 138,000 different species
live in Canada. In 1996, 254 species were endangered and another 21 had become extinct.
Several factors lie behind the loss of some species. The introduction of exotic species, such as zebra muscles, has often eliminated native species. Also, toxic substances have killed animals, and habitat loss has destroyed other species.
In Canada, the peregrine falcon, swift fox, and whooping crane are all considered endangered, but their populations are being restored. Also,
pollution seems to be affecting species less, so that fewer will be lost and biodiversity will be preserved.
Both the United States and Canada have large quantities of land set aside for conservation purposes. Dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century, conservation and preservation movements in the US especially have been popular and politically strong.
Canada has around 2,800 protected areas where biodiversity
can be maintained. However, many of these areas are tiny, measuring less than 10 square kilometers.
A high degree of risk for the loss of biodiversity remains in North America. About 7% of Canada's total land is highly threatened by the loss of biodiversity, and another 25% is at low risk.
Since 1990, the United States has greatly increased its total amount of preserved land. While public lands have been preserved, private land areas are increasingly being set aside as
well. This policy is essential to maintaining biodiversity and preventing the extinction of more species of animals.