Conservation to meet today’s realities
WINTER 2021 1
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.
Check out our online magazine page with
additional content to supplement this issue,
Nature Conservancy of Canada
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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.
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Keep The Rock Rugged
Big, bold and boreal
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,
President and CEO, Nature Conservancy of Canada
Brian Banks is a writer,
editor, geographer and
naturalist devoted to
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
with her art shown in
Toronto, L.A. and
Shanghai. After living in
Zambia, Bahrain and
England, she now lives
in Hamilton, Ontario.
SUMMER 2022 3
Vidal Bay, ON
at new scales
In the face of climate change and biodiversity loss, the
Nature Conservancy of Canada is conserving more, faster
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
SUMMER 2022 5
Murphy Cove Rd
Dr. Bill Freedman
Prospect Bay Rd
Dr. Bill Freedman
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.
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.
-- High Head Trail
SPECIES TO SPOT
• balsam fir
• 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
L TO R: BRENT CALVER; COURTESY ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE CANADA.
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
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!
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
SUMMER 2022 7
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
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
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.”
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
Increasingly, NCC is looking to scale up
its collaboration with partners in a more
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
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
“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
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.
SUMMER 2022 11
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
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
Cherry Meadows, BC
Taking a peek
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.
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.
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
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
SUMMER 2022 13
Rob Prosper sees the potential to accelerate conservation
through Indigenous-led protected areas
14 SUMMER 2022
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
SUMMER 2022 15
Investing in our future
Your support has made these
projects possible. Learn more at
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.
“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
“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
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
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
CARIBOU: MIKE DEMBECK. ROCK: CLAUDIA HANEL. WATERTON: LETA PEZDERIC/NCC STAFF.
Waterton Park Front, AB
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
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.
A love letter
By Gayle Roodman, NCC manager of editorial services
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.
18 SUMMER 2022 natureconservancy.ca
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
Swift fox pups, southern Saskatchewan
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.
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!