New polling reaffirms Albertans' support of conservation - Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

New polling reaffirms Albertans’ support of conservation

A young child (left) and adult (right) sit on a grassy patch overlooking a mountain valley. Their backs are facing the camera.

Creating jobs and conserving nature: Albertans say Province must do both

A major poll recently commissioned by Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) confirms most Albertans care about nature and want it protected. Topline results show a solid majority of residents value protecting wilderness with parks, keeping highways safe for people and wildlife, and nature-positive economic decisions.

According to Y2Y’s co-founder and strategic advisor, Harvey Locke, these results send a strong message to decision-makers that Albertans care about wild places in the province, and want to keep them healthy far into the future.

The Nanos Research poll conducted in October for Y2Y found:

  • The majority of Albertans support additional/expanded parks or protected areas in the Rockies: The Bighorn Wildlands area (69 percent) and Kakwa (61 percent);
  • 75 percent of responses say we do not need to choose between creating jobs and conserving nature — we need to do both; and
  • 82 percent of Albertans support building additional wildlife crossings and fencing on roads in key areas to protect connectivity, allowing animals and humans safe passage.

“Protecting more of the province means clean water for millions of people, more places for people to recreate and for wildlife to go, and helps us combat and adapt to climate change,” says Locke. “Clearly, Albertans want a government that actively protects lands, waters and wildlife in the province, and understand it doesn’t mean sacrificing a strong economy.”

Alberta’s Bighorn Wildlands along the edge of Banff and Jasper National Parks is the origin of the Edmonton’s drinking water. Credit: A. Jacob

Marla Zapach, owner of the Nordegg-based Skadi Wilderness Adventures, supports additional protection of nature in Alberta, a view highlighted by the polling.

“No matter our age, where we live, what work we do, or who we vote for, Albertans share a love for the natural world which surrounds us and unifies our communities,” says Zapach.

New investments in conservation projects, such as wildlife crossings, are good for people, too. These crossings with fencing keep motorists safer while traveling down Alberta’s highways. Dave Cipollone, an emergency first responder in the Bow Valley and Kananaskis, knows how important this is.

“The injuries and emotional trauma from hitting an animal on the highway is an awful experience for anyone,” says Cipollone. “Given the success of wildlife crossings in Banff National Park in reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions, and increasingly more people visiting the mountains, I’m encouraged that we’re investing in safer highways outside the park.”

The poll results are also in line with national and global efforts to increase nature protection to 30 percent of Canada by 2030.

“More than 70 countries world-wide, including Canada, are advocating for the global conservation goal of protecting at least 30 percent of the world’s lands and oceans by 2030. This poll shows Albertans share that global concern and want to reach that goal at home,” says Locke.

The poll was conducted by Nanos Research for Y2Y from Oct. 13 to Nov. 1, 2021. In total, 801 residents of Alberta were polled to better understand public opinion on the protection of lands, waters, and species in the province. Results are valid ± 3.5%, 19 times of out 20.