Welcome to our May/june issue. As a nation, Canada has been defined by nature, perhaps more than any other on Earth. North and south, east and west, each region of this country is a reflection of its climatic and geographic realities. Whether you live in the Maritime provinces, in the North country, on the Pacific coast — or anywhere in between — who you are and how you live has been shaped by your location. It has always been true, but even in this time of transformative technologies, globalization and mega-cities in Canada, it is still true. Like few places in the world, nature continues to play a central role in defining who we are.
Consider Banff, Alberta, and its near neighbour, Canmore. For more than a century, Banff National Park has been a jewel in the Canadian crown, renowned for its spectacular landscapes and abundant and magnificent wildlife. Over that time, the park and the Canmore area have grown into two thriving and culturally vibrant human settlements. Add in that it is a destination for millions of visitors every year, and it is not hard to imagine the pressure on nature. As you will see in the feature article by local writer Fraser Los on page 28, the genius of the area is that it has managed to bring these two often conflicting trends together in a remarkably harmonious way. It has not been easy, and the efforts must continue. Urban expansion can’t help but affect nature, just as wildlife and humans will conflict where and when their interests intersect. Thanks to the efforts of a great many visionaries over the last 100 years and into the present, a balance has been established. In this way, Banff and Canmore together represent the challenges faced by Canadians across the country. There is a lot we can learn from their example.
There may be no better illustration of the clash between nature and human development than the plight of turtles across Canada: all but one of the country’s eight species of native freshwater turtles are threatened, the result of road mortality, habitat loss, nest predation and poaching. As you can see in our feature “Slow and Steady” on page 18, Canadians across the country are devoting time and energy to help. In the last decade, different levels of government across the country have stepped up too, creating legal protections and infrastructure to ensure the continued survival of these unique creatures. I am proud to say the Canadian Wildlife Federation has been a leader in addressing this complex problem and now has one of the largest and most multi-faceted turtle conservation programs in Canada. There is much work still to be done, and I hope that after reading this feature article (which includes a sidebar on how you can get involved), you too will find a way to pitch in. Together, we are making a difference.