Gateway Gazette

Nature Conservancy of Canada Racing to Connect Edmonton-area Landscape

Brent Calver/Nature Conservancy of Canada

Edmonton, Alberta – The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is ramping up its Edmonton-area conservation through a new campaign to expand and connect the pre-existing protected parks in the Beaver Hills, an internationally recognized natural area located just 20 minutes from Edmonton.

The goal of the campaign is to raise $20 million over five years to conserve and steward this landscape, and to educate and engage everyone interested in protecting the area. By working with landowners and the local communities, NCC aims to help conserve the natural corridor between protected areas in the northern and southern portions of the Beaver Hills.

The Beaver Hills has a rich conservation history that began when the area was designated as a forest reserve in 1892. The Beaver Hills Initiative was founded in 2002 as a platform to engage and educate the community on how to balance development and environmental conservation. Thanks to those efforts, the Beaver  Hills became a Biosphere Reserve in 2016, a UNESCO designation that recognizes the harmonious integration of people and nature on the land.

NCC has been active in this region since 2002. The first property conserved in the Beaver Hills by the not-for-profit organization was 160 acres (65 hectares) of forests, wetlands and rolling hills, located just 11 kilometres southeast of Sherwood Park.

Since then, NCC has helped conserve 3,700 acres (1,500 hectares) in the area and is now increasing their efforts with their recently launched Beaver Hills Conservation Campaign.

The community has always played a large role in keeping the Beaver Hills intact. But the greater area surrounding the protected spaces are now being rapidly converted and modified for acreage development.

NCC is asking for Albertans’ help in creating a conservation legacy that will be a place of pride for everyone who lives and recreates in the Beaver Hills.

The Beaver Hills area contains numerous provincially and federally protected areas, including Elk Island National Park, Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area, Ministik Lake Bird Sanctuary, Miquelon Lake Provincial Park and the Beaverhill Lake Heritage Rangeland.

Working together, NCC and other partner land trusts have already conserved more than 12,600 acres (5,100 hectares) around these protected spaces.

This is not the first time that NCC has worked to create a larger landscape of conserved properties bordering a protected area. By working with ranchers, community members and partner organizations in the Waterton Park Front, NCC has helped create a buffer zone of intact landscape one-third the size of the actual park. NCC is hoping to replicate these efforts in the Edmonton area.

To learn more or get involved, visit ConserveBeaverHills.ca.

Quotes

“We’re so lucky to have this globally significant landscape right in our own backyard. The Nature Conservancy of Canada and local community have a chance to conserve this incredible natural treasure for the future.  We‘ve done important work in this area already, and are excited by what we will achieve thanks to the help of our partners and all of our supporters.”

Andi Romito, Nature Conservancy of Canada Senior Development Officer in Alberta

Brent Calver/Nature Conservancy of Canada

About

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation’s leading private, not-for-profit land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC has helped protect 2.8 million acres (more than 1.1 million hectares), coast to coast. In Alberta, 280,000 acres (11,300 hectares) of the province’s most ecologically significant land and water has been conserved.

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Source: Nature Conservancy of Canada

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