Now is the time to sup­port lo­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions

The Labradorian - - Editorial -

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

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