Michel Rapinski

Alberta

Number of projects: During this period, NCC also funded the relinquishment of 82,313 acres (33,311 hectares) of timber rights outside the new Birch River Wildland Park in Alberta. These rights were cancelled by the provincial government and will only be re-issued for ecological purposes. 3

Land value: Land value is the fair market value as determined by independent appraisal. $16,298,000

Acres conserved: 308,682

Stewardship volunteers: 1,133

Helping the Waterton community rebuild

David Thomas

In September 2017, the Kenow wildfire burned through the Waterton landscape. More than an estimated 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares) of NCC conservation lands and nearly 60 kilometres of fencing and numerous structures were burned.

In the wake of the property damage and the emotional toil, the community banded together to rebuild and carry on with their way of life.

Each year, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) hosts an annual community Eat and Greet, which includes a dinner and an evening of speakers. This year’s topic was Community After the Fire. Five speakers discussed the impacts of the wild fire and how it may affect the landscape and, as a result, the community going forward.

The emotional evening took many of the presenters and audience members back to the stress, fear and loss brought on by the Kenow fire. But in the end, some clarity and hope for the future was achieved. Great tragedies often demonstrate the resiliency of the human spirit, the generosity and kindness of both neighbours and strangers, and the collective strength that comes from facing adversity together.

NCC is grateful to the people of the Waterton area for allowing us to play a small part in their community. We are working with the community to rebuild what was lost and damaged in the fire. We are deeply inspired by their commitment to the land and to each other, and we have no doubt that the best days are still ahead.

Bunchberry Meadows opens to the public

NCC

In October 2017, Bunchberry Meadows officially opened to the public.

The campaign for Bunchberry Meadows was officially launched in Edmonton on May 21, 2015. Edmontonians stepped up and helped NCC and the Edmonton & Area Land Trust (EALT) to secure the property, which officially opened to the public in spring 2017. Bunchberry Meadows then underwent infrastructure upgrades over the summer.

Bunchberry Meadows is approximately 30 kilometres outside of downtown Edmonton.

The 640-acre (260-hectare) conservation site provides a chance to learn about the region’s aspen parklands. It offers looped trails that pass through a wide variety of habitats, including forests, meadows and wetlands.

Owned in partnership with EALT, this property is open for year-round foot access. Located just a quick jaunt from the city, visitors can hike, cross-country ski and snowshoe on its almost nine kilometres of trails. Picnic tables, a parking lot and interpretive signage make this property a great community amenity.

Beaver Hills Conservation Campaign

Brent Calver

The Beaver Hills have a rich conservation history and feature one of the oldest protected areas in Canada. The area was officially designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2016. The biosphere is a centrepiece of national conservation and is located next to Beaverhill Lake, which is a globally Important Bird Area for migratory waterfowl.

The rich mosaic of magnificent forests, lakes, wetlands and grasslands have been kept intact. The Beaver Hills contain publicly protected lands, including Elk Island National Park, Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area, Ministik Lake Game Bird Sanctuary, Ministik Lake Game Bird Sanctuary and Miquelon Lake Provincial Park. Today, however, much of the Beaver Hills are being rapidly converted and modified for residential development. The Beaver Hills are, essentially, an island of nature in a sea of modified land.

NCC’s Beaver Hills conservation campaign will expand and connect the area’s protected landscape. It is our goal to raise $20 million over the course of a five-year campaign. Funds raised will go toward securement, stewardship, science and research, as well as community engagement and support. These funds will help us reach our goals of improved landscape connectivity for the area.

Collaboration leads to boreal forest protection of global importance

John E. Marriott

On May 15, NCC and our partners announced the creation of a 3,330-km2 conserved area in northeast Alberta. When added to neighbouring conserved lands (Richardson, Kazan, Birch Mountain and Wood Buffalo National Park), the area now measures 67,000 km2 (16.5 million acres/6.7 million hectares). This creates the largest stretch of protected boreal forest on the planet — an area more than twice the size of Belgium!

A series of agreements between the Tallcree Tribal Government, NCC, the Government of Alberta, Government of Canada and Syncrude Canada has created Birch River Wildland Provincial Park, which borders the southern boundary of Wood Buffalo National Park.

NCC facilitated agreements between the Tallcree Tribal Government and the Government of Alberta to retire timber quotas along the Birch River.

The Birch River Wildland Provincial Park is a haven for 68 species of conservation concern, including three that are listed as threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act: wood bison, peregrine falcon and woodland caribou.

Canada’s boreal zone is part of a wide, green band that encircles the globe’s northern latitudes. Nearly a third of the world’s boreal zone lies within Canada. The boreal forest plays a major role in regulating global climate. Keeping carbon stored in the ground and out of the atmosphere is one of the most important ways that Canadians can contribute to reducing the impacts of climate change.

For the past five years, NCC’s Alberta staff have taken part in Canada’s oldest running race, the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon, which began in 1963. Since 2014, the Alberta Region has raised over $25,000 for conservation in the province by tying its shoelaces for nature.