Nature-positive economies strengthen southwest Alberta communities, support nature in the long term - Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

Nature-positive economies strengthen southwest Alberta communities, support nature in the long term

Ranch in southwest Alberta's foothills (Shutterstock)

A new report points towards a future where nature-positive economic development helps southwest Alberta communities thrive. The report from Alberta-based Stormy Lake Consulting was commissioned by Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) and builds on feedback from residents, business owners and others. The report identifies local initiatives moving in this direction and new ideas for a diverse group of business sectors.

This work aligns with Y2Y’s focus of promoting intact nature and thriving human communities.

“The landscapes of southwest Alberta have sustained communities of people and wildlife for thousands of years,” says Josh Welsh, Y2Y Alberta program manager. “For current and future generations to continue thriving here, economies must benefit people and the planet. This report provides tangible actions that amplify local community initiatives.”

The research involved extensive engagement of local stakeholders and communities. Stormy Lake Consulting heard from organizations, Indigenous groups, governments, and individuals in the region through a local advisory group, an economic development expert panel, and feedback sessions.

“The 15 communities of Alberta Southwest Regional Economic Development have collaborated for more than 20 years to help each other succeed,” says Bev Thornton, advisory panel member and executive director, Alberta SouthWest Regional Economic Development Alliance. “This report emphasizes that healthy communities remain creative and persistent in working to align the complicated aspects of culture, history, and economy within the special landscapes we share.”

Community feedback highlights three key nature-positive economic drivers for the region: tourism, renewable energy, and agriculture. These could be bolstered by supporting new and existing housing, education, broadband, business development, and communications initiatives.

The economic drivers in the report can:

  • create net new jobs
  • produce economic and environmental benefits
  • support truth and reconciliation
  • engage youth or multiple generations
  • amplify existing community initiatives

“We hope this report encourages a nature-positive lens on all land-based decisions, and local action to help sustain these special and important areas and thriving communities,” adds Welsh.

The report is now available at

‘Nature positive’ is a global movement to recognize the value of nature, place it on the path of regeneration and recovery, and transform our shared world to one where people, economies and nature thrive together.