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NCC Magazine - Summer 2022

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SUMMER 2022

Beyond

TKTKTKTKTKTKT

the horizon

Conservation to meet today’s realities

natureconservancy.ca

WINTER 2021 1


SUMMER 2022

CONTENTS

Nature Conservancy of Canada

4 Accelerating conservation at new scales

Doubling the pace of our conservation impact.

6 Dr. Bill Freedman Nature Reserve

This nature reserve outside Halifax commemorates a long-term NCC volunteer.

7 Share your nature pics

The Big Backyard BioBlitz is back!

7 Connect and recharge

Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault,

describes how nature revives him.

8 Big, bold and impactful

Expanding the pace, scale and scope of conservation.

12 North American river otter

Nature’s water clowns are making a comeback.

14 Force for nature

NCC board member Rob Prosper sees the potential to accelerate conservation

through Indigenous-led protected areas.

16 Project updates

Investing in our future, MB; Keep The Rock Rugged, NL; a legacy of care, AB.

18 A love letter to the mountains

How the mountains changed one woman’s life.

Digital extras

Check out our online magazine page with

additional content to supplement this issue,

at nccmagazine.ca.

Nature Conservancy of Canada

245 Eglinton Ave. East, Suite 410 | Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 3J1

magazine@natureconservancy.ca | Phone: 416.932.3202 | Toll-free: 877.231.3552

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the country’s unifying force for nature. We seek solutions to the

twin crises of rapid biodiversity loss and climate change through large-scale, permanent land conservation.

NCC is a registered charity. With nature, we build a thriving world.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada Magazine is distributed to donors and supporters of NCC.

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TKTKTKTKTKTKT

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natureconservancy.ca


Keep The Rock Rugged

Big, bold and boreal

Featured

Contributors

TKTKTKTKTKTKT

TOP TO BOTTOM: GENEVIÈVE LESIEUR; ANDREW WARREN; NIV SHIMSHON.

It has been a busy time here at the Nature Conservancy

of Canada (NCC), with so much great work underway to

accelerate conservation across the country. There are many

exciting successes to celebrate, but one that stands out to me

from recent months is a project we’ve nicknamed “big, bold and

boreal.” This Earth Day, I was delighted to join colleagues and

partners to launch our Boreal Wildlands project.

It’s certainly big, and bold: it’s the largest project the Nature

Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has undertaken, and the biggest

private land conservation project ever in this country. And it’s

boreal, spanning nearly 1,500 square kilometres in Ontario’s

boreal forest — part of the largest forest system on the planet.

In this issue, you’ll read about why landscape-scale protected

areas are crucial if we are to tackle the global challenges of

climate change and biodiversity loss. Working from coast to

coast to coast, NCC aims to double the pace of conservation

in the next few years. In the face of these challenges, nature

offers us real solutions. That is why we are working at an

unprecedented pace now to conserve the natural areas that

are our life support systems.

Just as nature offers us solutions to the world’s most pressing

issues, collaboration is the key to getting more nature into our

lives. The Boreal Wildlands is a $46-million project. With the

support of our partners, as well as individual donors and foundations,

we have raised more than two-thirds of the funds. This

spring, we launched a fundraising campaign to close the project.

We need you! To learn more about how you can support the

Boreal Wildlands, or other projects, visit borealwildlands.ca.

Thank you as always for your support,

Catherine Grenier

Catherine Grenier

President and CEO, Nature Conservancy of Canada

Brian Banks is a writer,

editor, geographer and

perpetually aspiring

naturalist devoted to

experiencing and

advocating for the

animals and plants with

whom we co-exist and

the environment on

which we depend.

Jacqui Oakley has

illustrated for The New

York Times, Reebok,

Rolling Stone and

National Geographic

with her art shown in

Toronto, L.A. and

Shanghai. After living in

Zambia, Bahrain and

England, she now lives

in Hamilton, Ontario.

natureconservancy.ca

SUMMER 2022 3


COAST TO

COAST

Vidal Bay, ON

Accelerating

conservation

at new scales

In the face of climate change and biodiversity loss, the

Nature Conservancy of Canada is conserving more, faster

T

he Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is working at an

unprecedented scale to deliver conservation impact. As the

largest private land conservation organization in the country,

NCC is unlocking solutions to support Canada’s targets to conserve

30 per cent of our lands and waters by 2030.

Accelerating conservation means NCC is delivering conservation

impact faster and more extensively than ever before. We’re not only

putting our energy and ambition into privately protected and conserved

areas, we’re helping others contribute toward Canada’s 30 by 30 goal

and lending our expertise in conserving lands of high natural value.

We can’t do this alone, and we are committed to collaboration,

consultation and bringing people together for change.

HELPING NATURE CONTINUE TO SUPPORT LIFE

When habitats are integrated and connected, and entire natural systems

are conserved, nature can better deliver essential services that support

life. By connecting landscapes that provide nature-based solutions, we’re

taking care of places that clean our water, purify our air, absorb and

store carbon, and support food security. Protecting connected habitat

also supports the species that live there, including close to one-third

of Canada’s species at risk.

Learn more about the projects

that are helping accelerate

conservation in Canada and

how you can help

natureconservancy.ca/

accelerate.

ANDREW WARREN.

4 SUMMER 2022 natureconservancy.ca


PROJECTS THAT ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE

How do we do it? Through projects large and small, and through partnerships such as the Government of Canada’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program,

across the country. Here are some of the projects undertaken over the past two years that have added to our conservation impact.

Qat'muk, BC

NCC was invited to help deliver the complete and

permanent extinguishment of all tenures and development

rights in the Jumbo Valley, and to support the Ktunaxa

Nation Council (KNC) in their ongoing conservation planning

for the establishment of an Indigenous Protected and

Conserved Area. NCC is honoured to work with the KNC to

help them achieve their vision of fully protecting Qat'muk.

Thaidene Nëné, NWT

Sometimes, the smallest projects

carry the biggest impact. Within a vast

area of cultural and ecological significance,

NCC purchased a private holding

of about one hectare, transferring it to

Parks Canada. This removed an obstacle

to completing Thaidene Nëné National

Park Reserve, influencing the conservation

of over 14,000 square kilometres in

keeping with the wishes of local

Indigenous communities.

Buffalo Pound, SK

You helped us conserve the seven

kilometres of shoreline around

Buffalo Pound Lake for the sake of

threatened grasslands and species

at risk. This natural area provides

drinking water for 25 per cent of the

province’s population.

TOP TO BOTTOM: PAT MORROW; PARKS CANADA; NCC; JASON BANTLE; MIKE DEMBECK; MIKE DEMBECK.

Vidal Bay, ON

The project comprises more than 7,600 hectares of shoreline and forest, redefining

landscape-scale conservation in southern Ontario. The forests, wetlands and alvars found

here capture and store nearly 23,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year; the equivalent of

taking nearly 5,000 cars off the road annually.

Chignecto

Isthmus, NS/NB

The Chignecto Isthmus is the

narrow strip of land connecting

mainland Nova Scotia to New

Brunswick and the rest of North

America. Since 2010, you have

helped us conserve just over

2,200 hectares on both sides

of the border, continuing to

steward and expand upon our

existing conservation efforts

along this critical wildlife corridor.

Krieg Property, QC

The Krieg property in the Green Mountains Nature Reserve

is an idyllic natural area full of life. Its mature forests are home

to eastern wood-pewee, a small, threatened songbird. Several

species of spring salamanders also live in the area’s streams.

NCC hopes to connect the property to the Green Mountains

Nature Reserve, a place of high biodiversity and a well-used

outdoor recreation area in Quebec.

Upper Ohio, NS

The conservation of rare Acadian

forest, over 25 kilometres of lake

shoreline and 130 hectares of freshwater

wetlands in Upper Ohio make this

project the third-largest acquisition in

NCC’s 50-year history in the province.1

natureconservancy.ca

SUMMER 2022 5


BOOTS ON

THE TRAIL

Murphy Cove Rd


N


Prospect

Bay

The

Alley

Dr. Bill Freedman

Nature Reserve

Prospect Bay Rd

Phantom

Cove

Mullins

Cove

Hardiman

Cove

Dr. Bill Freedman

Nature Reserve

A majestic coastal landscape that includes eight types of habitat

Dr. Bill Freedman was an ecologist and former Chair of the

Department of Biology at Dalhousie University, where he also

served as professor emeritus. He was also a major figure with the

Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) as a board member and

volunteer for more than 25 years. Dr. Bill, as he was affectionately

known, passed away in 2015. The Dr. Bill Freedman Nature

Reserve is dedicated to his memory and his contributions to NCC.

The reserve is located just 23 kilometres southwest of Halifax, Nova

Scotia. The coastal barrens landscape juts out into the Atlantic

Ocean and is flanked by picturesque Shad Bay and Prospect Bay.

Natural features include eight types of habitat: white spruce coastal

forest, old fields, bogs, granite barrens, boulder/cobble shoreline,

rocky shoreline, cliffs and open ocean.

The popular 7.6-kilometre (round-trip) High Head Trail passes

through four sections of NCC’s 133-hectare nature reserve. This

moderately challenging trail winds in and out of forested

pathways onto rocky outcrops, which provide breathtaking

views of the open ocean. Nova Scotia’s jagged southern

coastline and several rocky islands can be seen in the distance.

The granite barrens found here purify massive amounts of ground

water prior to its re-entry into the ocean. With its fresh sea breezes

and panoramic vistas, the High Head Trail is a wonderful hike in the

summertime and an ideal place for birdwatching.

STAY SAFE

On your journey, it is important to leave no trace behind and to

stay on the well-travelled path outlining the coast. It is advised

not to venture inland toward sensitive ecological habitat nor too

close to the rocky cliffs.1

Learn more at natureconservancy.ca/billfreedman.

LEGEND

-- High Head Trail

★ Trailhead

SPECIES TO SPOT

• balsam fir

• crowberry

• harlequin duck

• mountain holly

• red maple

• ruffed grouse

• snowshoe hare

• speckled alder

• white birch

• white-tailed deer

• wild raisin

MAP: JACQUES PERRAULT. PORTRAIT: JOEL KIMMEL. PHOTOS TOP TO BOTTOM: ROBERT MCCAW; MIKE DEMBECK; ANDREW HERYGERS/NCC STAFF.

6 SUMMER 2022 natureconservancy.ca


ACTIVITY

CORNER

BACKPACK

ESSENTIALS

L TO R: BRENT CALVER; COURTESY ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE CANADA.

Share your

nature pics

This summer, participate in

the Big Backyard BioBlitz

Did you know that photographing the plants,

animals and fungi around you can be an easy

way to connect with nature and contribute to

science and conservation?

This summer, the Nature Conservancy of

Canada is once again running its annual Big

Backyard BioBlitz. You can join the event and

share your species observations of the nature

around you. Conserving nature requires lots

of information. Your observations may be used

by scientists to help them understand the

distribution of species.

Best of all, you’re volunteering your time to

help increase knowledge about the species

in your area.

How to participate in the Big Backyard BioBlitz:

1. Sign up at natureconservancy.ca/bbb.

2. Receive your step-by-step instructions to

ensure your observations are included in the

group effort.

3. Tag team with family and friends, or make it

your me-time with nature.

Whether you’re new to bioblitzes or a seasoned

regular, join in the effort!

Connect

and recharge

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment

and Climate Change Canada, is motivated by nature’s benefits

Since my teenage years, I have always found myself drawn to nature.

When out in nature, there is not one particular item in my backpack,

because I tend to vary where I go and for how long. I love to take

a camera with me to document the beautiful landscapes and breathtaking views

that we are so fortunate to have in our country. Whether hiking in the beautiful

Chic-Choc Mountains in the Gaspé Peninsula, canoeing in Ontario, kayaking in

the middle of a pod of white-sided dolphins in northern BC or kayaking during

my honeymoon in the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, nature has

had a very special place in my heart. For as long as I can remember, I have had

essential “annual appointments” with nature. I get a sense of calmness when

I am outdoors, and I feel the need to protect it as much as possible.

My backpack may not be big enough to fit the next essential item — my family.

But they are an important part of my visits in nature. Whether by myself, with my

wife or my kids, spending time in nature allows me to disconnect from our family’s

busy life and reconnect with them and the amazing nature that our country has to

offer. Simply being in nature allows me to slow down and recharge.

And don’t just take it from me; doctors from the BC Parks Foundation’s PaRx

program prescribe a “nature pass” to our country’s parks and natural areas to

improve people’s mental and physical health by connecting them with nature.

Nature acts as a source of calmness but also a source of motivation. Nature also

has incredible potential to boost resilience, mitigate greenhouse gas emissions,

grow national economies and achieve for nature and for society in general.

When we protect nature, everyone benefits.1

natureconservancy.ca

SUMMER 2022 7


Big,

bold

AND

impactful

Faced with the urgent crises of rapid biodiversity loss and climate

change, we must expand the pace, scale and scope of conservation

BY Brian Banks

ANDREW WARREN.

8 SUMMER 2022 natureconservancy.ca


Boreal Wildlands, the largest single private

conservation project ever undertaken in Canada.

Put a map of Ontario on the

wall, throw a dart at its geographical

centre, and if your aim is true,

that dart will hit smack dab in

the boreal forest, somewhere near

Hornepayne, a forestry town 500 kilometres

northeast of Thunder Bay.

For two years, that part of the map has been

a special focus for Kristyn Ferguson, the Nature

Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) program director

for large landscapes in Ontario. Specifically,

a 1,450-square-kilometre (145,000-hectare) area

to the west and south of the community of Hearst,

about 900 kilometres north of Toronto. The lands

here are rich in boreal forest habitat, pristine

lakes and rivers, and carbon-storing peatlands.

In April, on Earth Day, NCC unveiled a fundraising

campaign to complete the conservation

of these lands, covering an area more than twice

the size of the city of Toronto. When complete,

the project will be the largest single private conservation

project ever undertaken in Canada,

dubbed the Boreal Wildlands.

“The first time I had a chance to visit the

property was in late September of 2021,” says

Ferguson. “It was peak fall, where all the poplar

and birch leaves turn yellow against the dark

conifers. From any bit of height, looking out at

the forest, it just goes on forever. The lakes look

glacial because of their bright greenish colour.

This place is mesmerizing.”

Boreal Wildlands’ significance is both tangible

and symbolic.

The property, originally held by Domtar, with

whom NCC negotiated an option to purchase

the site, has tremendous conservation value. It

is home to threatened woodland caribou, other

large mammals like black bear, lynx, wolf and

moose, and provides nesting, breeding and migratory

stopover habitat for a multitude of birds.

At the same time, the project epitomizes how

NCC, as Canada’s leading private conservation

organization, is responding to the crises of rapid

biodiversity loss and climate change by expanding

the pace, scale and scope of its work — adding

a focus on larger conservation projects in all

regions that builds on its long history of protecting

crucial habitat in southern Canada.

natureconservancy.ca SUMMER 2022 9


Left: Boreal Wildlands, ON. Right: Qat'muk, BC

This focus, a cornerstone of NCC’s new

roadmap for the next eight years, will see

NCC protect more land, faster, either through

traditional fee simple acquisition, as with

Boreal Wildlands, or by lending its expertise

— in securing private financing or acquiring

resource development rights, say — to help

projects led by governments, Indigenous

communities or other partners.

The goal: to double NCC’s impact by 2030,

conserving an additional one million hectares

and delivering $1.5 billion of new conservation

outcomes. In the process, NCC will help

Canada achieve its pledge, as a member of

the international High Ambition Coalition for

Nature and People, to protect 30 per cent of

this country’s lands and waters by 2030.

“Our new strategic plan lays out our toolkit

and our values, and a recognition that with

climate change and biodiversity loss, we have a

big part to play,” says Nancy Newhouse, NCC’s

regional vice-president in British Columbia.

It’s an approach endorsed by Mike Wong,

North American regional vice-chair of the

International Union for Conservation of Nature’s

World Commission on Protected Areas.

“Protected areas are one of the best conservation

tools in the world,” says Wong, who

is based in Gatineau, Quebec. “When you have

large intact areas that are well-managed, you

conserve both the diversity as well as the carbon

that is stored in that protected ecosystem.”

Supporting partners

One of NCC’s longstanding strengths is its

ability to bring together landowners, donors,

fundraising partners, governments, Indigenous

communities and other non-profits to protect

nature. But traditionally, the outcomes include

NCC owning the land. Taking a supporting role

on other groups’ projects isn’t entirely new,

but according to Dawn Carr, NCC’s director of

strategic conservation, it’s been mainly ad hoc.

When you have large intact areas that

are well-managed, you conserve both the

biodiversity as well as the carbon that is

stored in that protected ecosystem.

Mike Wong, North American regional vice-chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s

World Commission on Protected Areas

“We’ve not done a lot of proactive outreach

with potential partners to ask, ‘What

conservation objectives do you have that

our abilities or capabilities might be able to

support?’” says Carr. “The more we ask, the

more opportunities will surface to support

lasting conservation.”

Increasingly, NCC is looking to scale up

its collaboration with partners in a more

proactive manner.

A prime example that demonstrates NCC’s

potential in a supporting role are the negotiations

now underway between the Ktunaxa

Nation and the BC government to establish

an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area

(IPCA) in the Central Purcell Mountains.

The IPCA will encompass an area known as

Qat'muk, a sacred landscape the Ktunaxa

hold as the spiritual home of the grizzly bear.

NCC was invited to work with the Ktunaxa

Nation Council in 2019 to help them achieve

their vision of fully protecting Qat'muk — an

area rich in biodiversity that includes the

Jumbo Valley and surrounding watersheds.

The core threat to the area was a proposed

ski resort in the Jumbo Valley, which the

Ktunaxa and their supporters had been

fighting against for 30 years. After decades of

legal battles, an opportunity arose to negotiate

a settlement with the developer and open

the door to develop an IPCA.

NCC first assisted the Ktunaxa in developing

the ecological rationale for protection,

which was necessary to secure funding for the

IPCA creation. It then also acted as the negotiator

on behalf of the Ktunaxa in talks to extinguish

the developer’s tenures and development

rights associated with the resort. Today,

NCC is poised to assist the Ktunaxa with conservation

planning, providing mapping and

ecological data for the Qat'muk IPCA once its

details have been finalized.

“The Ktunaxa are leading the government-to-government

conversations about

what Qat'muk will look like,” says Newhouse.

“Our role there now is to be a support to the

Nation as requested.”

The Qat'muk example also underscores

that working alongside Indigenous communities

more generally, in different capacities,

will be a growing area of emphasis for NCC as

it expands its large landscapes work. The Boreal

Wildlands project is a case in point. While

it won’t be an IPCA, the project area includes

L TO R: ANDREW WARREN; PAT MORROW.

10 SUMMER 2022 natureconservancy.ca


L TO R: CLAUDE CÔTÉ; GLENN BARTLEY.

the traditional territories of many Indigenous

Nations and communities within Treaty 9.

“We’re making sure we’re speaking with all

of the communities, learning how they’ve

used the site historically, how they might like

to use it going forward,” says Ferguson.

“We’re in the very early days of developing

partnerships that NCC intends to be longterm,

respectful, meaningful and that bring

benefit to the communities.”

Protect and connect

Protecting any parcel of land, large or small,

that provides essential habitat for species at

risk is critical to help stem the loss of species

and conserve overall biodiversity.

But from an ecological standpoint, largescale

projects play a unique role by ensuring

the existence of large expanses of connected,

protected habitat. These areas are critical

for larger animals that migrate seasonally or

require big territorial ranges for feeding

and reproduction. In the face of a changing

climate, they also provide a measure of resilience,

giving many species of animals and

plants the opportunity to adapt and adjust

their location over time.

The Green Mountains Nature Reserve in

the Appalachian corridor of southeastern

Quebec is a prime example of the value of

large-scale connectivity in NCC’s portfolio.

Established in 2008, the reserve continues

to grow thanks to the donation or purchase

of adjoining parcels of land. It now measures

close to 8,000 hectares in size. It also is directly

linked to protected areas south of the

U.S. border.

“If you look at a satellite map, you can see

that every piece of land around [the reserve]

is cities or farms, not much forest. So, it’s

very important to keep that corridor for

the migration of species from the south

to the north with climate change,” says Cynthia

Patry, NCC’s project manager for the

Northern Green Mountains. “We still have

wide-ranging mammals that are crossing the

border and using that corridor, like lynx,

moose and bears. Outside of that corridor,

there are no lynx, so we really want to

maintain it for them.”

The Green Mountains Nature Reserve is

one of a handful of NCC’s existing large-scale

protected areas located in Canada’s south.

The newest in this category is Hastings Wildlife

Junction, a planned 8,000-hectare acquisition

consisting of significant forests and wetlands

located between the towns of Belleville

and Bancroft in southeastern Ontario. However,

in future, given the density of settlement

in the south, NCC expects most of Canada’s

large-scale protected area opportunities

will lie farther north.

This reality, coupled with the fact that

much more of the land in Canada’s North is

Crown land, also explains why NCC’s role

in such projects is likely to be that of a supporting

partner. As Newhouse explains, ownership

of such lands will stay with the Crown,

but in many cases, as with Qat'muk as well as

another recent project in BC, the Tenh Dzetle

Conservancy, made possible with the relinquishing

of mineral rights, NCC’s role will be to

“create agreements whereby when [such] privately

held tenures are relinquished, there’s a

parallel process that creates a protected area.”

IUCN’s Wong says he is happy to learn that

NCC is looking at a different way of doing

things, as it represents the kind of approach

that everyone — individuals, governments,

Green Mountains Nature Reserve, QC

companies, NGOs and other stakeholders —

needs to embrace if Canada and the world are

going to achieve their commitments to protect

30 per cent of their territories by 2030.

Wong highlights the failure of most countries

to reach the IUCN’s previous target of

protecting 17 per cent of their lands by 2020.

In Canada’s case, we’re now at just 13.5 per

cent. “If we didn’t make the 17 per cent target,

how do we get to 30 per cent?” he asks.

“You have to do things differently, right?”

Ferguson agrees: “We’re so proud of everything

that NCC has been able to accomplish

over the last 60 years with the help of our

supporters. But we recognize that we are at

a crisis point, when we need to think bigger

and think differently, bring in different

partners and collaborate.”

Recalling her visit to Boreal Wildlands, she

describes standing on the banks of the Shekak

River alongside Councillor Wayne Neegan of

the Constance Lake First Nation, NCC’s escort

on the land. As the river rushed past on its

way to Hudson Bay, Neegan pointed out

moose tracks at the water’s edge and demonstrated

how he calls moose when hunting.

About that moment, and others since, Ferguson

reflects: “I think we all recognize we’re

headed in the right direction, working together

on initiatives that are making a conservation

impact at scale. We’re doing it for the land

and the caribou, but also for people. We’re all

realizing we’re not separate from nature; we

are a part of nature. So, every time we’re helping

nature, we’re actually helping ourselves.”1

HELP MAKE

THE BOREAL

WILDLANDS

A REALITY

At more than twice the size

of the city of Toronto, once

complete Boreal Wildlands will be

the largest private land conservation

project in Canada’s history.

The Nature Conservancy of

Canada invites you to join us in

making conservation history.

The Boreal Wildlands will

ensure the future of more than

1,300 kilometres of rivers and

streams, vast carbon-storing

peatlands and seemingly endless

stretches of interior forest. Boreal

Wildlands alone stores more

than 192 million tonnes of CO2,

equivalent to the average lifetime

emissions of three million cars,

demonstrating the direct positive

impact this site’s conservation

could have on stemming the global

climate and biodiversity crises.

Having successfully raised

two-thirds of our fundraising

target, we now need you to

join us in this historic campaign.

Learn more at borealwildlands.ca.

The Boreal Wildlands is home to

birds like Canada warbler.

natureconservancy.ca

SUMMER 2022 11


SPECIES

PROFILE

North American

river otter

Found throughout North America, river otter populations are stable

after recovering from significant declines in the 19 th and 20 th centuries

JOE BLOSSOM/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO.

12 SUMMER 2022

natureconservancy.ca


APPEARANCE

River otters can measure up to 1.4

metres from nose to tail, and weigh up

to 14 kilograms. They have brown, waterrepellent

fur, webbed feet and long, strong

tails that help propel them through water. Their

underbody is usually lighter in colour. Their tiny

ears close under water, and their thick fur

helps keep them warm in cold water. Long

whiskers help them find prey, such as

fish, clams, insects and other

aquatic animals.

Cherry Meadows, BC

Taking a peek

RANGE

River otters can be found

throughout North America. In

Canada, they are found in every

province and territory, but have

only recently returned to Prince

Edward Island after disappearing

at the beginning of the

20 th century.

HABITAT

River otters can live in a variety of

aquatic habitats, including rivers, lakes and

large creeks. They also thrive outside of water

and can sometimes be seen playing in snow or

sliding down muddy hills. Playing helps strengthen

social bonds and gives younger otters a chance to

practise hunting skills.

Their burrows are typically found near water

and are often built to be accessible

from both land and water.

What NCC is doing

to protect habitat

for this species

River otter populations declined

significantly throughout the late

1800s due to over-harvesting and

water pollution. However, through

conservation management and

reintroduction efforts, populations

have recuperated and are now

considered stable or increasing.

ICONS: CORY PROULX. NCC; ALAMY STOCK PHOTO.

BIOLOGY

River otters breed between late

winter and early spring. Although they can

reproduce annually, it is more likely for this

species to give birth every two years. Female otters

give birth to between one and six pups. The pups are

born blind and spend the first month of their lives in

their dens with the female. After two months, the

female teaches the now-sighted pups how to swim.

This species does not hibernate and remains

active under frozen water by breathing

through breaks in the ice. River otters can

hold their breath underwater for up to

eight minutes.

River otters need healthy aquatic

habits to survive. The Nature

Conservancy of Canada (NCC)

continues to protect habitat across

Canada where river otters live. One

example is NCC’s Cherry Meadows

property, near Kimberley, BC.

Located in the Rocky Mountain

Trench, this area features extensive

wetlands — perfect habitat for

nature’s water clowns.1

How you can help

Help protect habitat for species at

giftsofnature.ca.

natureconservancy.ca

SUMMER 2022 13


FORCE FOR

NATURE

Changemaker

Rob Prosper sees the potential to accelerate conservation

through Indigenous-led protected areas

JESSICA DEEKS.

14 SUMMER 2022

natureconservancy.ca


For the first part of his career with Parks

Canada, Rob Prosper lived and worked in

some of Canada’s most iconic natural areas,

such as the Nahanni National Park Reserve. In these

places of stunning landforms and beautiful waterways,

Prosper also saw first-hand the impression made on

visitors by the people who called the land home.

Thaidene Nëné National Park Reserve

THAIDENE NËNÉ NATIONAL PARK RESERVE: PARKS CANADA. JESSICA DEEKS.

“I used to say, ‘we attract people to geography, but people leave with a

cultural experience,’” Prosper explains. “And that’s the one that lasts.”

Prosper recognized that the practices and traditions of Indigenous

communities in natural areas, such as the Dehcho First Nation in

Nahanni, made profound impressions on visitors. He believes that

these types of authentic experiences are important to fostering an

ethic of conservation.

Continuing his career at Parks Canada’s national office, as the director

of Indigenous Affairs and the vice-president of Protected Areas

Establishment and Conservation, Prosper was responsible for building

meaningful relationships with Indigenous people. A member of Acadia

First Nation, Prosper says he has been influenced by these relationships

with Indigenous leaders in conservation.

Prosper recently retired after a 38-year career and now sits on the

board of directors for the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).

“It’s an organization that can actually contribute to conservation on

the ground and, as a land manager, it lends itself to building relationships

with Indigenous people,” explains Prosper about his inspiration

to join NCC’s board.

[Indigenous Protected and Conserved

Areas] can advance conservation and

also put in the foreground the importance

of Indigenous culture and language.

ADVANCING CONSERVATION AND RECONCILIATION

Prosper was the federal lead on the Pathway to Canada Target 1,

a goal set by the government to conserve 17 per cent of terrestrial

areas and inland water, and 10 per cent of marine and coastal areas

of Canada by 2020. Since then, Canada has set the goal of 30 per

cent of its lands and oceans by 2030.

When considering reaching these new targets, Prosper believes

a wide and inclusive approach is necessary, and sees great potential

in working collaboratively with Indigenous communities.

“The biggest conservation gains available to Canada to meet its

international obligations,” says Prosper, “are in the area of Indigenous

Protected and Conserved Areas, and those can take a whole

variety of forms.”

As defined by the 2018 Indigenous Circle of Experts report,

Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) “are lands

and waters where Indigenous governments have the primary role in

protecting and conserving ecosystems through Indigenous laws, governance

and knowledge systems. Culture and language are the heart

and soul of an IPCA.”

Prosper believes these areas can advance

conservation and also put in the foreground

the importance of Indigenous culture and

language. “I don’t know that there is a more

profound expression of Reconciliation than

Indigenous communities responsible for their

territories,” says Prosper.

NCC works in collaboration with

Indigenous communities across the country

on a broad range of conservation projects.

Prosper believes the science-based expertise

of the organization can be helpful with work,

such as identifying biodiversity-rich areas,

while Indigenous knowledge and applying

concepts such as Two-Eyed Seeing contributes

to a holistic approach to managing

lands and waters.

Considering his own connections to nature,

Prosper thinks about his time working on

the land and the relationships he developed.

“Experiencing the Nahanni through the eyes

of the community of Nahanni Butte and

through the eyes of Dehcho First Nation was

very influential,” he reflects.

In his work at Parks Canada, Prosper

ensured Sable Island, Tallurutiup Imanga and

Thaidene Nëné and many other protected

areas were established. He lives with his

family in southeastern Ontario and has a

nearby farm property, which he says allows

him to be connected to the land. Prosper

plants and tills, while still letting things grow

a bit wild to contribute to the area’s biodiversity.

He jokes, “I’m now managing my own conservation

area.”1

natureconservancy.ca

SUMMER 2022 15


PROJECT

UPDATES

1

Investing in our future

SOUTHWESTERN MANITOBA

3

1

THANK YOU!

Your support has made these

projects possible. Learn more at

natureconservancy.ca/where-we-work.

2

Investing in nature has never been more important. Manitoba’s

prairies, forests, wetlands and lakes not only provide important

habitat for rare and endangered species, they help lessen the risks

of flooding, filter our drinking water, and capture and store carbon.

They also attract pollinators and protect the land against drought.

These natural landscapes, including the mixed-grass prairie and

wetlands found on Manitoba’s Jackson Pipestone Prairies & Wetlands

project, are nature’s gift and our ally in the face of today's global climate

change and biodiversity loss crises. The project is part of two Important

Bird Areas. This is a key opportunity to support prairie, tributary and

lake conservation in the province.

Located in southwestern Manitoba, near the town of Broomhill, the

project includes some of the last large, connected blocks of mixed-grass

prairie in the province. The securement of these lands ensures the

sustainability of important habitats and the thousands of species that

depend on them.

A number of at-risk species live here, including Baird’s sparrow,

Sprague’s pipit, ferruginous hawk, chestnut-collared longspur, prairie

loggerhead shrike, burrowing owl, great plains toad and barn swallow.

Maple Lake and Plum Lake also provide important stopover habitat

for migrating waterbirds.

NCC partners with local farmers and producers to improve the longterm

health of grasslands. The project is managed with nearby lands as

part of a larger livestock production operation, providing further benefits

to the local economy.

With your support, we can protect this remarkable place for local

and migratory species.

For more information, visit natureconservancy.ca/jacksonpipestone.

GLYN THOMAS/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO. INSET: NCC.

Giving back

“It’s important to show younger generations

that you need to keep giving back — to get

them in the mindset of helping protect the

environment and preserve natural habitats

in perpetuity.

Burrowing owl

“We see real value in providing a significant

stream of steady funding that can be used

as a catalyst for accelerating the Nature Conservancy

of Canada’s ambitious conservation

goals. Our intention is that our $1-million

donation encourages other individuals or

families to give flexible funding to protect

the environment. We hope this becomes

a prototype for giving that other donors will

be motivated to replicate.

“Change won’t happen overnight, but if,

as a result of our gift, more people know

about NCC and take steps to support your

projects and programs, then in 10, 15 or

even 20 years, we’re likely to see even more

land conserved, more wildlife thriving and

more people enjoying nature.”

~ Al Collings and Hilary Stevens,

Collings Stevens Family Foundation,

donors since 2017


Caribou

2

Keep The Rock Rugged

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

NCC’s Keep The Rock Rugged campaign is an ambitious three-year appeal to raise $3 million to advance

conservation in Newfoundland and Labrador. Over $1 million is already committed.

The province has the third-smallest percentage of protected land in Canada. Keep The Rock Rugged

aims to expand critical nature reserves and support student internships, volunteer programs and

research projects, and invest in new technology to advance nature conservation in the province.

Learn more at natureconservancy.ca/keeptherockrugged.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Partner Spotlight

RBC Tech for Nature is

a multi-year commitment to

new ideas, technologies and

partnerships focused on

protecting our shared future.

That’s why the organization

partnered with the Nature

Conservancy of Canada (NCC)

to invest in the power of

innovative technology.

CARIBOU: MIKE DEMBECK. ROCK: CLAUDIA HANEL. WATERTON: LETA PEZDERIC/NCC STAFF.

Waterton Park Front, AB

3

A legacy of care

WATERTON PARK FRONT AREA, ALBERTA

Across the country, NCC works in and near communities and landscapes that have cared for the lands

and waters around them for generations. In spring 2021, the Bectell family approached NCC about ensuring

the future of the lands that had been under their care for years.

Working with NCC, the family placed a conservation agreement on their lands, located 10 kilometres

east of Waterton Lakes National Park. The property includes native grasslands and wetlands. The

area is home to several species at risk, such as ferruginous hawk, grizzly bear and western blue iris.

It is also within a sensitive raptor and key sharp-tailed grouse range and next to a Key Wildlife and

Biodiversity Zone.

The 324-hectare Bectell property builds on the existing network of lands under NCC’s care in the

Waterton Park Front area. The agreement ensures the property will be maintained in a natural, healthy,

unfragmented state while retaining its use as a working ranch.

RBC Tech for Nature has

helped NCC to develop artificial

intelligence (AI)-based tools

to plan effective conservation

action across the country. These

tools take existing information

on species, habitat, climate,

connectivity and threats and

predict where the best places

are to conserve and what

conservation actions to take.

The tools are also among the

first in the country to help

prioritize actions to care for

properties once they are

confirmed for conservation.

This partnership highlights

the importance of conserving

the right habitats and places,

while using the right processes,

globally, in NCC's work to

address the twin crises of

biodiversity loss and climate

change. Ultimately, these

AI-based tools support

decision-making to optimize

NCC’s impact from coast to

coast to coast.

natureconservancy.ca


CLOSE

ENCOUNTERS

A love letter

to the

mountains

By Gayle Roodman, NCC manager of editorial services

Dear mountains,

You don’t know me personally, but you might recognize me by my

feet. I’ve skied, hiked, snowshoed and biked your contours for the

past several decades.

You see, you changed the course of my life.

When I finished high school in Ontario, I was nowhere near

deciding what to do with my life.

The first thing I did after graduating was take the train to Lake

Louise in Alberta to work there for the summer. I will never forget my

reaction to seeing your Rockies for the first time. I was gobsmacked.

Seeing your grey spires and blue-white glaciers in person left me

speechless. Between shifts, I spent most of my spare time exploring

you. I even took a mountaineering course so I could become

closer to you.

In winter, I’d return to Ottawa to work. I did this for a few years,

until your call was too strong to pass up. You got under my skin,

so I moved myself west.

Being new to the area, I joined outdoors groups filled with

like-minded people. I made lifelong friends on your trails. You

also opened a world of possibilities. I’ve explored your Adirondack,

Himalaya, Tatra and Andes cousins. Each mountain range looks

different, but despite the continental divides, you share something

in common: the power to lift my mood, rejuvenate me, challenge

me and deepen my connection to the natural world.

But you haven’t had it easy. You provide so much — clean air,

water, leisure, refuge for species, spiritual benefits, just as a start —

yet I sometimes forget that despite being massive and strong, you’re

still vulnerable to development and the effects of climate change.

For all that you’ve given me, here’s what I promise to give back to

you: you’ll never become “wallpaper” to my eyes. I’ll always marvel at

the light that plays upon your ridgetops. I’ll fiercely defend my belief

that you look prettier with snow, and more formidable without. I’ll continue

to seek you out when I need to clear my head and raise my heart

rate. I’ll respect your temperaments and your weather. I’ll give space

to the animals that live on you. I will always remember that it is a privilege

to experience the awe of your vistas. And I’ll do my best to ensure

others treat you well and with the care and respect you deserve.

Thank you, and keep up the good work.

Gayle

JACQUI OAKLEY.

18 SUMMER 2022 natureconservancy.ca


LET YOUR

PASSION

DEFINE

YOUR

LEGACY

Your passion for Canada’s natural spaces defines your life; now it can define

your legacy. With a gift in your Will to the Nature Conservancy of Canada,

no matter the size, you can help protect our most vulnerable habitats and the

wildlife that live there. For today, for tomorrow and for generations to come.

Order your free Legacy Information Booklet today.

Call Marcella at 1-877-231-3552 x 2276 or visit DefineYourLegacy.ca


YOUR

IMPACT

Swift fox pups, southern Saskatchewan

Protecting

native grasslands

Today, less than 20 per cent of Saskatchewan’s

native grasslands remain intact. But thanks

to your support, 629 hectares of endangered

grasslands and wetlands at the Lonetree Lake

property have been protected. Many private

donors also contributed to the conservation of

Lonetree Lake, including members of the Field of

Dreams Facebook Group, initiated by University

of Regina professor Marc Spooner. What started

with Spooner’s question, “What should we do

with our Saskatchewan Government Insurance

rebates?” expanded into something incredible.

The group raised $103,500 toward protecting

the vibrant habitat found at Lonetree Lake.

Hastings Wildlife Junction, ON

TOP TO BOTTOM: JOHN E. MARRIOTT; MIKE DEMBECK.

Critical conservation

in southern Ontario

The 8,000-hectare Hastings Wildlife Junction will

play a critical role in lessening the impacts of

climate change and biodiversity loss. Located at

the junctions of the Algonquin to Adirondacks

and The Land Between corridors, a project of

this magnitude and ecological significance is

staggeringly rare in southern Ontario, where so

much of the land is converted for development.

Thank you for all you do for nature in Canada!

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