REGINA — A recent national award has Nature Saskatchewan feeling proud of the conservation work they and their local partners work hard on each year to complete.
Nature Saskatchewan has been given the 2020 Conservation Partner Award by Nature Canada, awarded in recognition of an organization who has contributed significantly to conservation in Canada through their work.
Executive director Jordan Ignatiuk said Nature Saskatchewan is honoured to receive the recognition this year.
“There are hundreds of small conservation organizations across the country that Nature Canada works with,” said Ignatiuk. “And to be recognized nationally really just sort of puts a stamp on the work we’re doing and knowing it’s having an effect.”
Ignatiuk highlighted the provincial burrowing owl conservation project as a centre piece of Nature Sask’s programming.
First launched in 1987, the Operation Burrowing Owl Project works to protect the natural habitat of burrowing owls and monitor the population changes in the province.
An additional stewardship program works with land owners on a voluntary basis to share information about how to successfully protect endangered species present on their land and maintain natural habitats.
Ignatiuk said that although the award has Nature Saskatchewan’s name on it, the honour also extends to all of the public partners they work with — including those land owners.
“We’ve been working with landowners to recognize them, that they’re doing something right all along, in the way those species are still present on their land,” said Ignatuik. “Most of them feel pride in the fact they’ve been recognized and singled out for having done proper management for those species.”
Ignatiuk said the national award is a great spotlight for both programs, allowing Nature Saskatchewan to show off the work they do to other organizations across the country.
“Sister organizations across the country, that may be doing similar work, are recognizing that we’ve been singled out,” said Ignatiuk. “It puts us on sort of a pedestal and others may be looking at and emulating what we’ve done.”
Moving forward, Ignatiuk said that Nature Saskatchewan plans to continue working on conservation programs surrounding the province’s grassland region.
He’s also foreseeing a renewed focus on nature-based climate solutions, like addressing carbon sequestration with conservation.
“It’s not something totally new to what conservation agencies have been doing all along, “ said Ignatiuk. “If we’re protecting the wetlands, if we’re protecting the native prairie grasslands and park lands, we’re still storing and sequestering the carbon in the ground as opposed to cultivating areas which is just releasing the carbon.”
Ignatiuk said that Nature Saskatchewan has plans to shift some of it's educational outreach to let the public know the environmental benefits of conservation, in terms of climate change.