Shore of the Novatney Property, Pelee Island, ON (Photo by Sam Brinker, OMNR)

Shore of the Novatney Property, Pelee Island, ON (Photo by Sam Brinker, OMNR)

NCC’s John Riley wins prestigious international award

John Riley at book signing event, December 2013 (Photo by NCC)

John Riley at book signing event, December 2013 (Photo by NCC)

Award-winning author, conservation professional and science advisor emeritus for the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) John Riley will be adding another achievement to what is already a long list accomplishments.

This April, Riley will receive the NatureServe Conservation Award, an honour he will be sharing with former recipients such as influential ecologist José Sarukhán of Mexico; marine biologist and former administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Jane Lubchenco; conservation scientist Walt Reid; and Pulitzer Prize-winning naturalist Edward O. Wilson.

The award recognizes a change maker who has significantly increased the public profile of biodiversity conservation. The recipient is recognized as a role model in their use of biodiversity information in informing decisions, and inspiring others to take action toward conserving the species and habitats most in need.

John Lounds, president and CEO of NCC remarked “the Nature Conservancy of Canada is thrilled to see John Riley acknowledged for his distinguished career.” Lounds went on to say “as our chief science officer and national director, John has led our science and stewardship program across the country and has been a mentor to so many professionals. He has informed public discussions on environmental change in Canada, most notably in Great Lakes country, and his contributions as an author, ecologist, geologist and botanist have made a lasting impact on conservation and Canada’s natural heritage.”

Riley’s long career in science has included organizations such as the Royal Ontario Museum, Ontario Geological Survey and Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario Nature and, since 1998, NCC.

He is co-founder of the Partnership for Public Lands, which led the campaign that added six million acres of protected areas across Ontario. Riley is also co-founder of the Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation and Greenbelt Foundation, and has written books on the peatlands of Ontario and the Hudson Bay Lowland, the ecology of the Niagara Escarpment and Georgian Bay World Biosphere Reserves, and the Rouge Valley, as well as thematic studies of Ontario alvars, flora and woodlands.

As NCC Chief Science Officer and National Director, Conservation Strategies after 1998, John guided the organization in its creation of a systematic, evidence-based approach to conservation at scale, completing conservation blueprints from coast-to-coast, focusing NCC securement and stewardship on the areas most in need of conservation to protect Canada’s natural diversity. He led the work to secure the funds to complete this mission, and co-authored three conservation blueprints: for the Great Lakes and prairie and parkland ecoregions and for Labrador.

John was also instrumental in the project to return plains bison to Old Man on His Back in 2003, and the development of Conservation Data Centres across the country.

McGill-Queens University Press published his latest book, The Once and Future Great Lakes Country: An Ecological History, which has been favourably reviewed by notables like Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro. The book won the Ontario Historical Society Fred Landon Award for best history in the last three years. John lives on a farm in Mono, Ontario.

‘‘John Riley’s contributions to conservation, inside and outside NCC, are legend,” says Michael Bradstreet, NCC senior vice president, new conservation strategies.

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