Seven environmental stories we’re following across Canada in 2023

In our latest newsletter, we reminisce about birds we encountered in 2022 — and share our hunches on what to expect for the natural world in the new year

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Reporter Emma McIntosh looking into the distance at Tommy Thompson Park using binoculars.
Emma McIntosh’s brush with a scarlet tanager in Tommy Thompson Park, an urban wilderness along Toronto’s waterfront, is getting her through the winter.

She said her visit last year to the garbage dump that became a bird sanctuary was easily the most fun she’s had out in the field, given the bird nerd she is — but also because of the haven it offers to protected species.

The reporting trip reminded her of how much joy and hope the natural world can give us, and how the park “is a great example of what happens when decision makers are brave enough to take action to protect biodiversity,” Emma told me.

As she looks to the natural world in the new year, Emma is holding on to that hope even as changes are made to Ontario’s Greenbelt — a protected area home to endangered species — despite protests across the province.

“Without a doubt, I think 2023 will be a year of skirmishes over the Greenbelt,” Emma said. “The province finalized its contentious Greenbelt land swap just before the holidays, which temporarily dampened backlash — but from what I hear, more is coming. With Parks Canada raising its hackles over this and public anger brewing, we might be in for one heck of a ride.”

And that’s just what Emma will be looking forward to covering — read on to find out what our other reporters across the country have their eyes on in 2023.

Take care and embrace your inner bird nerd,

Karan Saxena
Audience fellow

P.S. Is there a story or issue you think we should be following this year? Drop us a note.
People take part in a march for biodiversity and human rights during COP15 in Montreal. Person holds up sign that reads, "Not one more inch"

What 2023 has in store for us

A big year for LNG

Liquefied natural gas projects, especially in B.C., will be big stories in 2023 as highly profitable corporations lobby for more government handouts and position LNG as an “ethical” and “clean” fossil fuel choice. — Sarah Cox, B.C. investigative reporter

High stakes for mining

The way prospectors stake a claim in B.C. could start to change this year. The Ehattesaht First Nation and Gitxaała Nation are gearing up for a groundbreaking legal case aimed at B.C.’s Mineral Tenure Act and its “outdated practice of granting mineral claims without Indigenous consultation or consent.” As we reported last year, anyone can stake a claim in just a few clicks. In December, I sat in on intervenor hearings and this year, I’ll be following what happens next. — Francesca Fionda, mining reporter

Turning words into action on biodiversity

Canada made big promises last month at COP15, the United Nations biodiversity conference in Montreal, to conserve and restore nature. This year we’ll be keeping an eye on how Ottawa works with other levels of government to put those commitments into action and what it means on the ground for species facing extinction. — Ainslie Cruickshank, B.C. biodiversity reporter

Indigenous youth take centre stage

As land-based conflicts continue to play out on First Nations’ territories in 2023, Indigenous youth will undoubtedly play a role in speaking out against ongoing colonialism. When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s opening remarks at COP15 were interrupted by a cohort of youth drumming and singing, it gave the world a glimpse of the next generation of Indigenous leaders, fighting for their future and for future generations. — Matt Simmons, northwest B.C. reporter

Push and pull in Manitoba

With an upcoming election in Manitoba this year, Premier Heather Stefanson has made ambitious promises to expand economic development in the North while balancing both Indigenous Rights and environmental protections. In November’s throne speech, the government claimed “Manitoba is the answer to many of the world’s problems” in a global energy transition. This year, we’ll be looking into Manitoba’s mining and infrastructure investments — with a close eye to the communities impacted along the way. — Julia-Simone Rutgers, Manitoba reporter

A bubbling fight over Alberta’s future

Tensions between the federal government and the Prairie provinces are not going away any time soon and will surely be a prominent feature of a looming provincial election in Alberta. At the heart of that tension are environmental regulations and a bubbling fight between Alberta and Ottawa over a just transition for oil and gas workers. The next year is sure to be dominated by debates about how Canada moves forward on its climate commitments and how Alberta and Saskatchewan push back (or don’t). — Drew Anderson, Prairies reporter


This week in The Narwhal

Cuts in the boreal forest as part of oil and gas exploration activities in northern Alberta
Alberta companies could save money by certifying oil well sites as cleaned up — from space
By Drew Anderson
Imperial Oil was the first to receive reclamation certificates based on remote sensing technologies and algorithms in 2021.

A rendering of the proposed Warehouse Park in downtown Edmonton shows walking paths, trees and seating
Can natural infrastructure help revitalize Winnipeg’s downtown?
By Julia-Simone Rutgers

A Blanding's Turtle
Head of Ontario species at risk agency resigns over changes to Greenbelt, conservation authorities
By Emma McIntosh
Northwest B.C. reporter Matt Simmons with two Nisg̱a’a youth, one on his shoulder.
Our top images from 2022 speak to the resilience of nature and the power of the human spirit
By The Narwhal

What we’re reading

Global News: Ontario police interviewed environment group about Greenbelt complaint
The Guardian: Why 2023 will be a watershed year for climate litigation
cozy dog wrapped in a blanket
When you’re gearing up for news about the natural world in 2023. Tell your friends to sign up for our newsletter so we can keep you posted — while you wake up from holiday mode. Oh, and a very happy new year!
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