Put your hands in the dirt

Put your hands in the dirt r1 ... Subscribe to this newsletter narwhal logo BECOME A MEMBER Daimen Hardie, co-founder of Community Forests International, leans on an aspen tree in the Acadian forest
Hi, I’m Eva Voinigescu, The Narwhal’s new outreach manager. I had the privilege of helping to put together our latest, greatest online event this week — and boy did Canada’s forests, wetlands, grasslands and farmlands steal the show.

Wondering what you missed? We’ve got you covered.

We brought together a panel of experts, along with 1,000 live attendees, to offer a look behind the scenes of The Narwhal’s Carbon Cache series on the role of nature-based solutions in addressing the climate crisis — an approach the Canadian government committed $3.9 billion toward in the fall 2020 economic statement.

Research shows one-third of the carbon reductions needed to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Accord can be achieved by protecting, managing and restoring natural landscapes.

“That’s the equivalent of stopping burning oil globally. It’s a very big opportunity,” panellist Hadley Archer, executive director of Nature United, said in the webinar.

Central to the solution is Indigenous-led approaches to conservation. Enter fellow panellist Cree Nation Deputy Grand Chief Mandy Gull, who shared that over the past decade, the nation has worked with Quebec to establish protected areas roughly the size of Iceland.

“As much as we need those who are coming with scientific information and Western knowledge, we need to hear the voices of the people that are living in the regions impacted by climate change,” Gull said.

The relationship between people and the land is also crucial to the management of the Wabanaki Acadian Forest in Eastern Canada. Panellist Daimen Hardie, executive director of Community Forests International, explained how his organization is working with private woodlot owners to find alternatives to clearcutting.

Panellist Bryan Gilvesy, rancher and chief executive officer of Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS), similarly touted working with farmers and ranchers to encourage practices that keep carbon in the soil. To date, ALUS has worked with more than 1,000 farmers in six provinces to convert uneconomic pieces of farmland to grasslands, wetlands and forests.

“We’ve got to make sure we focus through on the people that are actually going to put their hands in the dirt and make these projects happen,” he said.

Hardie, meanwhile, said the federal government’s investment in nature-based solutions is a good start but called for more ambition. “What we’ve seen recently is that the government can respond to an emergency and the climate crisis is an emergency.” Quoting Bill McKibben, he added: “The climate crisis is time-bound and winning slowly is actually losing.”

By the end of the event, many loyal fans of The Narwhal told us they’d found hope in the discussion.

“Thank you for an excellent presentation,” said member Danny Kells. “Hope inspires and that’s what I hear today.”

Want to feel hopeful, too? Go here to watch the full panel discussion.

Take care and turn that frown upside down,

Eva Voinigescu
Outreach manager

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The saga that never ends Rancher Rachel Herbert and her family, who are concerned about proposed coal mines Remember when we told you Premier Jason Kenney’s about-face on coal mining in Alberta’s Rockies and foothills was, um, not really much of an about-face?

Well, the backlash is only building, this time courtesy of ranchers, biologists, First Nations members and even a law professor who says Alberta has crafted a “back door” plan to free up billions of litres of water for coal mines. The proposal would effectively grant coal companies “free” access to water in the headwater tributaries of the Oldman River — a drought-prone region — and it’s raising alarm bells about risks to Indigenous ways of life, wildlife and at-risk fish species.

Kenney took to the airwaves this week to defend his government’s actions, saying no mining project would “jeopardize the headwaters off the eastern slopes.” But the folks who spoke with The Narwhal’s Sharon J. Riley beg to differ.

If you need an example of what open-pit mining can do to waterways, look no further than B.C.’s Elk Valley, where off-the-chart levels of selenium pollution have been detected, leading to deformed fish and contaminated drinking water. The Alberta coal saga prompted Global News to cover the situation in the Elk Valley, and they used The Narwhal’s footage to help tell the story.
BECOME A NARWHAL This week in The Narwhal

B.C. allows logging in nine ‘protected’ old-growth areas

a logger cutting down an old-growth tree By Judith Lavoie

The BC NDP has consistently stated it placed protections on 353,000 hectares of old-growth forest, yet a recently unearthed document shows logging will continue in more than 150,000 hectares of these ostensibly protected areas. Read more.

Curing the ‘colonial hangover’: how Yukon First Nations became trailblazers of Indigenous governance

James Itsi hangs chum salmon for smoking in a shed in the self-governing Vuntut Gwitch’in First Nation community of Old Crow, Yukon. By Julien Gignac
With modern treaties focused on nationhood and land rights, First Nations’ evolving practice of self-governance in the territory may be pointing the way forward for other Canadian jurisdictions. Read more.

B.C. charges mining, fracking companies very little for water use, new research finds

Researcher and journalist Ben Parfitt looks out at a fracking wastewater pit By Stephanie Wood
Some of the province’s biggest water guzzlers are paying as little as 28 cents for an Olympic-sized swimming pool’s worth of freshwater in a system that has little transparency and does little to track the overall impact of industrial water consumption. Read more.

What we’re reading Guardian article: Opposition rises to Canadian mining plan that poses risk across US border Believer magazine article: the vine and the fish cat fighting off dogs with light sabres When you’re fighting in the name of nature-based climate solutions. Tell your pals to join the push for change by signing up for our newsletter. r33

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