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Conservation groups urge Alberta to invest in green jobs to diversify economy with 2017 budget

Conservation groups are recommending the Alberta government invest in conservation measures through Budget 2017 to help diversify the Alberta economy.

Conservation groups are recommending the Alberta government invest in conservation measures through Budget 2017 to help diversify the Alberta economy.

“With Budget 2017 the Alberta government has an opportunity to continue the work to provide green jobs and help resource dependent communities modernize their economies for the 21st century,” says Stephen Legault, program director for Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y).

Along with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), Y2Y has three priorities it would like to see addressed in the upcoming budget: parks creation, forest restoration and green infrastructure.

“We’d like to see resources set aside for the creation and maintenance of new parks and protected areas,” says Katie Morrison, conservation director for the Southern Alberta Chapter of CPAWS.

“Alberta has made a commitment to working with Canada to reach the milestone of 17 per cent protected areas across all of its landscapes. Parks are important for safeguarding our water and wildlife, and creating new parks is a form of economic stimulus,” says Morrison, noting that areas in the U.S. with significant protected areas economically outperform other regions by as much as five times.

“We commend Alberta for taking action to protect the Castle Parks. This will help create jobs in Southern Alberta. There are many other areas that need protection along the Eastern Slopes, on the prairie, in the foothills, in the parkland, and in the boreal forest,” says Morrison.

“Alberta has started to invest in the restoration of caribou habitat,” says Alison Ronson, executive director of the Northern Alberta Chapter of CPAWS. “There are tens of thousands of kilometres of roads and seismic lines that need to be reforested and restored so Alberta can protect its threatened woodland caribou herds along the foothills and in the boreal forest. A further investment in restoration will yield results not just for caribou and the forest ecosystem, but for watershed conservation and grizzly bear recovery as well. These are good, green jobs that will help communities diversify.”

Finally, the groups would like to see an investment in green infrastructure.

“Alberta has a chance to build on investments already made to mitigate the impact of highways on wildlife,” says Legault.

“Together with our partners in the Crowsnest Pass, with government, and with industry we have identified locations on Hwy 3 and Hwy 1 where wildlife are being killed at an alarming rate. Building green infrastructure such as wildlife underpasses and overpasses, similar to those found in Banff National Park, will reduce the risk to drivers, save money from accidents, and help keep our protected areas connected with effective wildlife movement corridors. These are shovels-in-the-dirt kind of investments that will mean jobs and safer highways,” he says.

The groups are hoping to see investments in green jobs, parks creation, forest restoration and green infrastructure in the Spring 2017 budget.

For further comment:

Stephen Legault, Yellowstone to Yukon program director Crown, Alberta and Northwest Territories , 403-688-2964

Alison Ronson, CPAWS Northern Alberta executive director , 780-328-3780 ext. 1

Katie Morrison, CPAWS Southern Alberta conservation director , 403-232-6686