July 16th, 2024

Eleven regions in Alberta conserved through NHCP

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on January 5, 2023.

NCC file photo The Nature Conservancy of Canada works to protect land like this, in partnership with the Shoderee Ranch near Waterton last spring.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The Nature Conservancy Canada will be able to conserve an additional 130,000 hectares of priority natural habitat over the next three years thanks to the Natural Heritage Conservation Program’s (NHCP) extension announced last month.

NCC spokesperson, Sean Feagan, said the NHCP is very important to NCC’s work as it allows them to conserve large natural areas and it is a major catalyst of their work conserving nature.

“It offers a one to 1.5 matching funding support, so for every $1.50 we provide, the program will match a $1. It’s provided millions of dollars for NCC’s work in Alberta and that’s resulted in thousands of hectares conserved in perpetuity,” said Feagan.

He said there are 11 regions in the province that are conserved thanks to the NHCP.

“In the Lethbridge area some of the natural areas include the Milk River Ridge, Pakowki Lake and Cypress uplands around Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park,” said Feagan.

He said thanks to the NHCP, to date thousands of hectares across the province have been conserved with some projects around Waterton Lakes National Park, the Crowsnest Pass and the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

“It’s an interesting time for conservation, I think one of the challenges for us is communicating the urgency, because we continue to lose natural areas unfortunately here in Alberta, but I think there is room for optimism as well,” said Feagan.

He said that together with individuals, corporate partners and these programs through the federal government, as well as provincial programs, we can work together and conserve these landscapes that are important to people, wildlife, and ecosystems.

“It is really a whole society approach and I think a really important thing about this program is the fact that it facilitates the matching of funds, and it really does open the door for people to work together, to reach goals that benefit us all,” said Feagan.

NCC will deliver more than 70 per cent of the extended program’s total target of 180,000 hectares by 2026, working alongside other program partners, including Ducks Unlimited Canada, Wildlife Habitat Canada and the country’s land trusts.

Lands protected and cared for by NCC under the extended NHCP will provide benefits for species at risk and migratory birds and ensure the health and connectedness of natural systems.

“I think it’s all about trying to prioritize what we have left and protect what’s most important,” said Feagan.

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