Building An Urban Conservation Ethic

  • Published on Jun 21 2017 |
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By Anne-Marie Syslak

Urban centres play an important role in the larger landscapeWhile much of CPAWS Southern Alberta’s work focuses on protection of our world-class wilderness and parks, there is an important link between wild and urban areas that is often overlooked. Calgary, and most urban centres in Southern Alberta, are in key locations, allowing easy access to wilderness. However, this close proximity also means that our actions, whether outside or within our cities, affects the larger landscape we live in. It is important to create an urban conservation ethic that connects the big picture and includes education and stewardship for both urban and wild places.

In continually pushing the boundaries of human use and development, we are continually losing habitat and affecting connectivity and movement of species.  This is especially poignant for megafauna like grizzly bears.  In recent years, we have heard more and more stories about bears being spotted further east, including in Calgary, as well as other wildlife wandering into urban areas.

CPAWS Southern Alberta, in a supporting role with Bear Conflict Solutions, and Alberta Environment and Parks, has been helping local landowners, like Bearspaw residents John and Gina Nenninger, reduce potential animal conflicts in urban areas. Installing electric fences around beehives, fruit trees, and other bear attractants on their property has been one successful strategy to deter animals from becoming habituated and seeking out food in human development.

It is important to understand the location of our urban centres, and our role in conservation in the larger landscape.  Calgary is adjacent to the significant Yellowstone to Yukon wildlife corridor.  Our city is also home to the Bow River, not far from the headwaters of the Bow River Watershed.  Citizens and municipalities need to understand, plan, and engage in stewardship if we want to ensure our water stays clean, our grizzly bears stay wild, and if we want to continue to enjoy these wild spaces as we do today. 

The City of Calgary is on board and actively working to do their part by creating a strategy for biodiversity, water conservation, and protecting riparian areas. CPAWS Southern Alberta is working with the City of Calgary to help develop their biodiversity strategy. We also support the city’s conservation efforts through a partnership with our Water Rangers education program for youth and adults.  CPAWS is also engaged on provincial efforts, looking at recreation planning, education, and stewardship with respect to conservation issues. 

To learn more, connect to the big picture, and build your ethic of conservation in your city and beyond, support CPAWS Southern Alberta.  Whether practicing bear safety, installing fences, conserving water or supporting more protected areas, be part of the solution today.