A Beautiful Forest

  • Published on Oct 17 2017 |
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By Anne-Marie Syslak
Executive Director, CPAWS Southern Alberta

On September 22, CPAWS Southern Alberta celebrated our 50th anniversary, and half a century of conservation success in this region. Like a beautiful tree, we have come from strong roots and grown into a majestic forest. The seeds of the organization were rooted in national park management; fighting to protect our most protected areas from massive commercial development and access that would have changed these areas as we know them. As the first regional chapter, we helped establish the structure of the nation-wide organization; a model of local, grassroots volunteers and concerned citizens, speaking up for places they loved, with the ability to scale attention nationally when needed.

Our branches grew, and we were involved in protecting some of Alberta’s most treasured places; Kananaskis, including the Spray, Elbow-Sheep, and the Bow Valley; the Whaleback; and the Castle, just to name a few. As we branched out, we recognized that our strength was grounded in strong trunks of science-based education and understanding. 20 years ago, our chapter developed a formal education program. We are first and only CPAWS chapter with such a program. The award-winning program has since grown to reach over 115,000 people. We have a unique delivery model, connecting conservation to active stewardship.

As a tree grows into a beautiful forest, we are now looking to the canopy and beyond.

With more people, and continuous land-use pressures, protection and management of our wild southern Alberta landscape is as relevant as ever. Whether in areas of grizzly bear recovery, recreation planning, national park management, conservation literacy, or extending our protected area networks, CPAWS Southern Alberta needs your continued support and engagement for the next 50 years.

The theme of this newsletter is forest management. Our recent report, Envisioning a better way forward for Alberta, showcases an innovative path forward for forest management along the Eastern Slopes. It looks to a new model of management that would prioritize for key values, like clean water. It represents who we are as a collaborative organization, providing thoughtful science, evidence-based recommendations and trying to find solutions for the environment and the economy. Our history is like a tree growing from sapling to forest and I felt that this analogy was fitting for who we are and the reputable work we have done and continue to do. Here’s to the next 50 years and the future champions of CPAWS Southern Alberta.

Yours in conservation,
Anne-Marie