The Nature Trust of British Columbia is a non-profit organization committed to protecting and managing ecologically important lands while preserving BC’s biological diversity. They have acquired over 500 conservation properties in British Columbia and are the leading land conservation non-profit in the area. We spoke with Dr. Jasper Lament, Chief Executive Officer of The Nature Trust of British Columbia to learn more about them.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
The Nature Trust of BC is a leading non-profit land conservation organization with a 50-year history of successfully protecting and caring for B.C’s most critical habitats. Since 1971, The Nature Trust of BC with the help of its supporters has acquired more than 500 parcels of land – equal to 180,000 acres – of ecologically significant land to save vulnerable wildlife, fish and plants.
What problem does it aim to solve?
We are in the midst of a biodiversity crisis. BC is home to more biodiversity than any province or territory in Canada, yet 43 percent of the province’s assessed species have low or dwindling populations – saving their habitat is the first step in protecting our province’s wildlife, fish and plants. Additionally, land conservation is a meaningful and effective nature-based solution to climate change. BC’s vast forests, wetlands and grasslands not only provide critical habitat but also store vast amounts of carbon.
By protecting, conserving and restoring ecologically important land, The Nature Trust of British Columbia is building a treasury of wild natural areas that conserve iconic and important species at risk, thus maintaining the incredible biodiversity that we have in our province.
When did you start/join it?
The Nature Trust of British Columbia celebrated its 50th year anniversary in 2021, having been founded in 1971. I joined the team in 2012 after working in both the conservation and corporate worlds.
What made you want to get involved?
The idea of creating a permanent conservation legacy by protecting land in perpetuity for wildlife has always had a magical appeal to me. As I was finishing my Ph.D. in biology, I realized that I wanted to work in conservation rather than research. I was born and raised in BC, and growing up I enjoyed wonderful times surrounded by nature and wildlife. I have my parents to thank for providing me with that opportunity. I want future generations – including my own young children – to have similar opportunities.
What was the situation like when you started?
A decade ago, The Nature Trust had a great Board and a talented and dedicated staff. However the general public was not concerned about biodiversity, and land conservation was a “niche” cause.
How has it changed since?
Climate change and biodiversity loss are the twin crises of our time. The urgency and awareness of addressing these issues have intensified dramatically in the last few years. Conserving land is a nature-based solution to help tackle both these crises at the same time.
What more needs to be done?
Rising real estate prices are the single biggest challenge facing private land conservation in B.C. Places like the Lower Mainland are geographically constrained and there’s a lot of competition between people and wildlife for the space that is there. We have to accelerate land conservation to fight climate change and to stop biodiversity loss. The time is now. The need is urgent.
How can our readers help?
Land conservation offers people a way to make a difference with $5, $50 or $5 million dollars. You can invest dollars in protecting one piece of land; this is a very tangible way to help provide nature-based solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss. The Nature Trust of BC has been doing this for 50 years and we are hopeful that more people will get excited about joining us in this work, to use our expertise to help them achieve their own personal goals to help fight climate change.
We are fundraising now to buy several ecologically valuable pieces of private land. You can explore our priority projects here to support our land conservation efforts across BC. Every dollar is spent to help conserve land right here in BC.
Do you have any events coming up?
On October 6, we will be hosting our annual fall Gala at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. This is an opportunity to bring together those supporting conservation in BC, and thank those giving back to nature. To learn more or book a table, visit here.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity/non-profit that you love?
The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation hctf.ca provides critical funds for fish, wildlife and habitat conservation projects across BC. We are thankful for their support of our land conservation work!