Executive Director's Message
First, we would like to formally express our gratitude to two long-standing board members who have recently completed their terms. Ian Dyson and Bob Parkinson both contributed significantly to Miistakis in many ways over the years and we thank them for their commitment.
Over the past few months we have been working with the Environmental Law Centre on the design of an innovative new initiative called Community Conserve. This initiative involves the collaborative undertaking of applied research in support of municipal conservation activity in Alberta, which is prioritized by municipalities, broadly accessible and self-sustaining. We are happy to announce that the Max Bell Foundation has approved funding for Community Conserve and we are excited to get this project underway, working with the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) and the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC).

Lastly, this week marks the kick-off of Alberta Ecotrust’s inaugural Environmental Gathering: Change the Climate 2016. This gathering will explore the current context for environmental work in Alberta, share successes, explore new ideas and help build a more resilient, cohesive and connected environmental community in Alberta. There is a great roster of speakers and sessions. As a long-standing partner of Alberta Ecotrust we are excited to attend and participate in what promises to be an inspiring and memorable event.  

Danah Duke

Research Theme Area Profile: Financial Dimensions of Conservation
The bottom line for conservation is often the bottom line financially. And sometimes that conflicts with our conservation values. For example, at home a person’s environmental morality constantly goes head to head with their pocket book – buying a new furnace, replacing the car with a hybrid, and many other environmentally-valuable actions compete for limited resources. The same applies to landscape-scale conservation actions, and the associated policy and program efforts that do (or could) underlie them.
However, understanding this dynamic, fully informing it, and even finding opportunities to use it in support of conservation, can be critical to actually making ecological conservation happen. This is what Miistakis’ Financial Dimensions of Conservation research theme centres on.
Often, it is mostly about making sure that the full scope of financial considerations are included in a land or resource use decision. That means asking: When are financial considerations a barrier, and where are they opportunities? Where does a financial efficiency argument put weight behind a conservation argument? How can the tax regime foster support for conservation? How do we effectively pull these levers?
To these ends, Miistakis has explored such facets as cost to society, incentive programs, tax implications, market-based instruments, efficiency in gathering scientific data, efficiency in building infrastructure, and financial incentives for conservation.
What has that looked like in our project work? With our partners, we’ve undertaken projects that have looked at questions such as:
  • Can beef certification support grasslands conservation?
  • Could Transfer of Development Credits markets be created in Alberta?
  • What are the costs to society of wildlife collisions?
  • What are the tax implications of different municipal land use regimes?
  • What ecosystem service incentive programs have been used in the Crown of the Continent?
  • What are the operational costs of private land conservation stewardship?
  • What is the economic value of wildlife corridors?
  • What are the costs to agricultural producers of living with wildlife?
In these ways we continue to support landowners, municipalities, industry, ENGOs, and government agencies in making sustainable land or resource use decisions that consider – up front – the financial barriers and opportunities.

Staff Profile: Ken Sanderson's Pick3

What's cooking (share a favorite recipe)
I love lamb and there is nothing better than the basic rosemary and garlic rub for lamb. Blend these ingredients together into a thin paste and rub onto your lamb, then wrap tightly and let it sit overnight. Fresh garlic and rosemary make for a better end product.
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
 What are you learning right now? What do you want to learn?
I am learning about using drones for land conservation. I recently had the opportunity to work with someone using a drone to fly imagery for my farm. The small, efficient drone captured a photo mosaic, digital elevation model and near infrared imagery all at amazing resolution. This kind of approach could prove beneficial in many types of land conservation research projects.

What is your favorite hobby?
I enjoy growing mushrooms… the edible kind. I have been growing for a long time and have grown over 20 species, but I have never managed to fruit the one mushroom that got me into the hobby in the first place, the Shaggy Mane. One of these days!

Project Updates

Putting Beavers to Work

We are pleased to report that a number of funders have recently provided support for this project which focuses on using beavers for watershed restoration. We wish to express our gratitude to the Calgary Foundation, the Samuel Hanen Society for Resource Conservation, the S.M. Blair Foundation  and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation. You can learn more about this project by clicking here.


Call of the Wetland

The Miistakis Institute is partnering with Enbridge and The Parks Foundation to create a citizen science program entitled "Call of the Wetland" along Calgary's Rotary/Mattamy Greenway.  When complete, the Greenway will be a 138 km network of parks and pathways that will encircle the city. Along the pathway users will find unique amenities like no other in the city - speciality off-leash dog areas, family fitness parks, educational wetland interpretive areas, and unique play structures. As a Greenway sponsor, Enbridge is supporting a citizen science program that engages Calgarians in the outdoors while also providing a venue to explore, share and learn about the health of Calgary’s ecosystem.  

Call of the Wetland aims to better understand the conservation of wetlands in an urban setting though monitoring of amphibians as an important indicator species. Citizen scientists can participate by monitoring amphibians at identified sites along the Greenway or by classifying calls or photos from the project website in the comfort of their home. By engaging citizens in the monitoring process, we not only improve scientific literacy but the two-way flow of information about wetlands and the need for their protection. 


AEMERA Citizen Science

We are excited to share news of our new partnership with Alberta’s
Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency (AEMERA) to explore how citizen science can inform and guide environmental monitoring, evaluation and reporting efforts in Alberta. Our experience with designing and implementing citizen science initiatives to advance conservation will be used to provide guidance and recommendations to AEMERA and to showcase the diversity of citizen science initiatives across Alberta. You can read more about this partnership here.
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