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Action plan seeks to protect Hamilton’s biodiversity

A variety of local groups and partnering with the City of Hamilton to create a biodiversity action plan. Ken Mann

The City of Hamilton and local conservation groups are taking the first steps to create a biodiversity action plan.

The intention is to see future projects through a “biodiversity lens,” as Hamilton’s population grows by an estimated $236,000 residents over the next three decades, thereby protecting animal and plant species and their natural habitats.

“We know we’re losing a lot of species,” said Jen Baker of the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club while speaking to Hamilton’s general issues committee on Wednesday.

“We’ve lost at least 60 per cent of the world’s wildlife since 1970.”

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Baker adds that “we are part of a recognized biodiversity hot spot, and that’s something we really need to celebrate and to protect what we have left, and then to enhance it, to make it even better.”

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Baker says the biodiversity action plan will also fight climate change by reducing air pollution, since “trees filter out harmful air particulates,” and urban flooding because “healthy natural areas help to store water.”

Other groups partnering with the city on the initiative include Environment Hamilton, the Hamilton Conservation Authority, Bay Area Restoration Council and Royal Botanical Gardens.

Read more: Canada’s biodiversity is in danger — here’s what you can do to help

City councillors have agreed to invest $40,000 toward the project, while the other agencies are expected to cover the balance of the approximately $90,000 cost of developing the plan.

Ward 1 Coun. Maureen Wilson calls the $40,000 investment “the very least that we have to do, the very least,” towards creation of a life-sustaining strategy.

Ward 9 Coun. Brad Clark adds that having a biodiversity plan as residential development leads to new subdivisions is a “prudent course of action.”

Staff are expected to report back to councillors with a progress update in six months.

Hamilton is home to more than 1,300 plant and animal species, according to a report presented to the general issues committee.

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