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Canada invests $2-million to aid conservation work in the Kootenays

The Government of Canada will invest $2-million over four years to help protect the environment and aid conservation efforts made by Kootenay Connect and the Kootenay Conservation Project.

Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change explained that protection of Canada’s wildlife and their habitats is still important, even as the Federal Government has focused on COVID-19 relief.

“In terms of keeping Canadians safe, it means that we have to recognize the fundamental link between human wellbeing and a healthy environment. It certainly means that as we move forward, we have to think about how to better care for the natural systems on which we depend,” said Wilkinson.

The funding provided by the Federal Government will provide support to its fight against climate change.

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“The on-the-ground work led by the Kootenay Conservation Program certainly showcases what we can do for Canada’s biodiversity by working together,” said Wilkinson. “Science tells us that protecting nature can account for up to 30% of global climate solutions.”

Wilkinson added that while COVID-19 has made a significant and detrimental impact on Canada, he said it demonstrated what people can achieve by working together.

“I certainly hope that we can take and apply these lessons to other crises that loom on the horizon. There are no more challenging crises than the twin crises that are coming towards us than the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss,” explained Wilkinson. “We need to ensure that we emerge from this pandemic stronger and more resilient, and our Government is focused on doing just that. By focusing on projects like this one, we are working towards building a society and a future that will be more sustainable.”

The Government of Canada said Kootenay Connect will identify, restore, improve and steward a variety of habitats at key locations to support numerous species at risk and improve ecological connectivity across the landscape. It added that this work will help species respond to climate change and other significant disturbances by allowing them to migrate to more suitable habitats and/or shifting their range.

Marcy Mahr, Kootenay Connect Project Manager said its strength lies in a broad strategy that focuses on habitats rather than individual species.

“With this approach, Kootenay Connect is shifting conservation practice away from the individual species of concern and habitat patched to considering suites of species that are part of a larger landscape that and rely upon healthy, connected habitat and functioning ecosystems,” said Mahr.

The additional funding will help Kootenay Connect and the Kootenay Conservation Program continue their work to support their efforts in the region.

“The multi-year funding we’ve received through the community-nominated Priority Places Program has been instrumental in leveraging additional dollars from regional funders, so our partners can do more on-the-ground work to benefit species at risk,” said Mahr.

Kootenay Connect focuses its efforts on four biodiversity hotspots in the region, which included the Bonanza Biodiversity Corridor, Creston Valley, Wycliffe Wildlife Corridor and the Columbia Valley Wetlands. The Federal Government added that the project helps conserve habitats that are important for 28 at-risk species, including grizzly bears, northern leopard frogs, western screech-owls, American badgers, Lewis’s woodpeckers and little brown myotis bats, among many others.

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