Canadians are fortunate to have an abundance of nature and biodiversity right in their backyards-gifts that come with a tremendous amount of responsibility to protect them. The Government of Canada is working with partners across the country to protect nature and support biodiversity for future generations.
Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, announced that the Government of Canada will invest $402,400 over three years to conserve and restore habitat for species at risk in the greater Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve area. Located in West-Central Saskatchewan on the traditional lands of the Métis, Mistawasis Nêhiyawak, and Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, the habitat spans 112,000 hectares and supports many species, including twenty-two listed species at risk, such as the piping plover and the bobolink.
The project, funded by the Canada Nature Fund’s Community-Nominated Priority Places for Species at Risk program and led by the Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve, aims to conserve and restore native prairie and shoreline habitat. Guided by a blended knowledge approach, which incorporates western science and traditional knowledge shared by elders, the project works to promote knowledge transfer on species at risk as well as develop and implement a long-term management plan for their protection and their habitat.
“By collaborating with partners on projects like this one, we are working to conserve and restore wildlife habitat and ensure the survival of our species at risk. The on-the-ground work led by the Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve, in Saskatchewan, with guidance from the Mistawasis Nêhiyawak and Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, showcases what can be achieved for Canada’s biodiversity through collaboration and dedication.”
– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“The Redberry Lake Biosphere region is very grateful for the opportunity to work with Environment and Climate Change Canada in the pursuit of protecting species at risk in the Redberry Lake area. We are very excited to help preserve a future for these important species!”
– Ian King, Chairperson, Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve
“Our ancestors found strength in partnerships, alliances, and friendship. Now, in the 21st century, Mistawasis Nêhiyawak finds strength in working with communities, organizations, institutions, and levels of government that share our traditional territories. Like many First Nations and Indigenous communities, Mistawasis is looking for ways to reconnect with our ancestral relations with land, water, and sky-especially for our youth and shared good future. Through the shared work of this species-at-risk project, our youth will have the opportunity to deepen their understanding of our landscape, acknowledge the species sharing our territories, and realize the need to work together to protect all species that provided for our ancestors, that can provide for us today, and hopefully provide for tomorrow.”
– Anthony Blair Dreaver Johnston, Special Projects, Mistawasis Nêhiyawak
“I have had the pleasure of working with the Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve team on behalf of Muskeg Lake Cree Nation and truly look forward to our continued collaboration going forward. Their efforts to promote education and awareness related to biodiversity and responsible land stewardship resonate with us as a First Nation. We strive to promote similar values, which is what makes this collaboration work. They have helped us with audio-recording devices to identify bird and frog species at risk, as well as with hosting various educational workshops. Our leadership at MLCN is dedicated to supporting land stewardship and greatly appreciates the support that we have received to help get our youth and community members out and learning while experiencing our land.”
– Steven Wiig, Climate Change Adaptation Community Coordinator, Muskeg Lake Cree Nation
“Working with the partners on this project has been a very valuable experience. There is a lot of meaning in observing research data being used to inform watershed planning and educational programs. Moreover, such initiatives provide the opportunity for universities to mobilize their research and create meaningful impact. The Community-Nominated Priority Places program is important in that it empowers community-level initiatives and networks to not only advance the protection of land and water, but also enhance their resilience now and into the future.”
– Jared Wolfe, Project Manager, Global Institute for Water Security, University of Saskatchewan
The greater Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve area includes the Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve, which was designated a UNESCO biosphere in 2000 for its biodiversity and ecological significance.
The Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve is working with partners to identify key areas that provide habitat for species at risk on the traditional lands of the Mistawasis Nêhiyawak and Muskeg Lake Cree Nation. They are also collecting on-the-ground data on the species that are present in the area and using local knowledge from elders to record observed changes to biodiversity over time.
Through this project, the Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve and its partners are developing a citizen-science phone application, which will enable individuals to collect data that will be used for future habitat-management decisions and monitoring species at risk within the region.
Project partners include Mistawasis Nêhiyawak, Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, North Saskatchewan River Basin Council, Prairie Water (Global Water Futures, University of Saskatchewan), Redberry Lake Bible Camp, Saskatoon Sailing Club, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Nature Conservancy of Canada, University of Saskatchewan School of Environment and Sustainability, Canadian Biosphere Reserve Association, local landowners, Green Earth Environmental Solutions, and Simply Ag.
Through Budget 2018, the Government invested $1.35 billion in Canada’s Nature Legacy-the largest investment in nature conservation in Canadian history.
The Canada Nature Fund’s Community-Nominated Priority Places for Species at Risk is a $15.6 million, four-year funding initiative administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada to support community-led projects that protect and conserve species at risk.