Now is the time to support local environmental organizations
Environmental Non-governmental Organizations (ENGOS) do many valuable things: They conduct independent scientific research, engage with communities, schools, businesses, and government, and conduct advocacy around issues of pollution, species at risk, climate change, and unchecked development.
These are non-profits, often run by volunteers with lean staff and small offices - if any at all. They have felt the sting from nearly 15 years of under-investment in wildlife and environmental conservation. Now many of our local ENGOS in this province are struggling to operate and competing with each other for limited funding opportunities.
While government grant programs may appear to offer support, the funding structures have changed dramatically in the past decade and remain inaccessible to many environmental organizations.
Grants are earmarked for “priority areas” elsewhere in Atlantic or Eastern regions, or are distributed in large pots that are only manageable for large organizations or institutions, or require large-scale collaborations across provinces — which is a challenge for an island. Moreover, federal funding programs often require matching funds, but environmental organizations in this province have very limited sources to match potential funds.
The provincial government has not only underfunded environmental programs but has actively sought to dismantle the environmental branch and defend potentially destructive projects in favour of short-term job creation.
Unlike other non-profit sectors such as community health, which receive the lion’s share of corporate and private donations, environmental groups rely on small-scale fundraising and personal donations.
I encourage anyone with an interest in nature, wildlife, or biodiversity to donate to or volunteer with a local environmental organization.
Now is the time. The Newfoundland and Labrador Environment Network (NLEN - nlenvironmentnetwork.org) maintains listings of active member organizations.
You can also contact your local government representatives urging them to protect our natural areas, invest in conservation research, and tackle issues like habitat degradation, unsustainable resource development, and climate change. Speak up now and ensure we maintain an independent voice for the environment in this province.
Nick White St. John’s