Central Alberta family’s gift boosts grassland conservation efforts
Conservation agreement will protect grassland biodiversity for future generations
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is pleased to announce the conservation of the Gabert-Meeting Creek property in central Alberta. This conservation project is the result of the commitment and dedication of Terry and Faith Gabert, who are passionate about protecting the beauty and ecological value of the land for future generations.
The 129-hectare Gabert-Meeting Creek property will be protected through a conservation agreement between NCC and the Gabert family, who have lived and farmed in the area since 1974. This agreement ensures that the property will continue to operate as a working landscape while protecting its natural state in perpetuity. In a remarkable act of generosity, the Gaberts have donated the complete value of the agreement to NCC, fortifying the organization's ongoing efforts to conserve nature in Alberta.
Located in Camrose County, within Alberta's Central Parkland Natural Subregion, the Gabert-Meeting Creek property holds significant conservation value. This area has experienced extensive land use change, with only about five per cent of natural cover remaining today. Conserving Gabert-Meeting Creek protects it against further loss.
The property primarily consists of native Prairie grasslands, which are becoming increasingly rare in the area. These grasslands are vital for biodiversity, serving as habitat for numerous plant and animal species, some of which are rare and threatened. Additionally, they contribute to carbon storage, soil conservation and water regulation.
Meeting Creek flows through the new conservation site. A tributary of the Battle River, part of one of Alberta's major watersheds, this creek supports many fish, waterfowl and mammals. It also serves as a water source for agriculture and recreation in the surrounding area. Protecting the natural land cover along the creek helps stabilize its banks, maintain its water quality and lessen the impacts of floods and droughts in the watershed.
Sprague’s pipit, a songbird species listed as threatened under Canada’s Species At Risk Act, has been documented on the property. This species declined by 87 per cent since 1970. Conserving its remaining grassland habitats is crucial to its recovery.
NCC extends its gratitude to the Gaberts for their commitment to conservation and for their role in protecting this ecologically valuable property. Their partnership ensures that the land's natural features, including native Prairie grasslands, riparian habitats and diverse wildlife, will be safeguarded for generations to come.
Additional project costs were supported by private donors, including the Dr. Rene and Mrs. Carol Weber Foundation, and the Government of Canada’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program, part of Canada’s Nature Fund. This project was donated to NCC under the Government of Canada’s Ecological Gifts Program, which provides significant tax benefits for individuals or corporations who donate ecologically sensitive land.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC)’s Prairie Grasslands Action Plan is an unprecedented effort to rally Canadians to protect one of the world’s most endangered ecosystems. The Plan will lead efforts to conserve more than 500,000 hectares by 2030 — an area six times the size of the city of Calgary — and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“This property is special place to us and our family. We enjoy this native prairie, especially the wildflowers in the spring and summer. The wild animals such as mule and white-tailed deer, moose and coyotes, beavers and birds, such as hawks, meadowlarks, ducks and geese, are wonderful to see, all the while the land provides marvellous grass, water and shelter for our grazing cattle. This easement ensures that the land will remain wild forever. We hope that other owners of grasslands will consider protecting their lands this way." – Terry and Faith Gabert
“We are immensely grateful to Terry and Faith Gabert for their vision and commitment to conservation. Their partnership and shared passion for protecting this ecologically significant property exemplify the critical role that private landowners play in protecting Canada's natural heritage. Together, we are securing a sustainable future for our land, wildlife and communities." – Tom Lynch-Staunton, Regional Vice-President, Nature Conservancy of Canada
“Through programs like the Natural Heritage Conservation Program and the Ecological Gifts Program, the Government of Canada is making progress toward its goal of conserving a quarter of Canada’s land and water by 2025, working toward 30 percent of each by 2030. By working with partners such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and thanks to generous landowners such as Terry and Faith, we are helping to protect the natural environment in Alberta and across the country. Protecting prairie grasslands plays a vital role in helping to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and contributes to carbon storage, soil conservation, water regulation, and the recovery of species at risk. Only by engaging in a whole-of-society approach, and working together, can we hope to tackle the triple threat of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.” – The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
- Other wildlife on the property include coyote, great blue heron, mule deer, western meadowlark and Swainson’s hawk.
- This project is within a provincial Environmentally Significant Area, meaning it is recognized for its ecological integrity and its contribution to water quality and quantity.
- Prairie grasslands are disappearing at a rapid rate. We need to act now, to protect what’s left. Grasslands store carbon, filter our water and lessen flooding and drought impacts. Habitat loss is the leading threat to iconic prairie wildlife, including at-risk species such as burrowing owl, ferruginous hawk and swift fox. Conserving Prairie grasslands provides effective solutions to counter the challenges of rapid biodiversity loss and climate change.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the country’s unifying force for nature. NCC seeks solutions to the twin crises of rapid biodiversity loss and climate change through large-scale, permanent land conservation. As a trusted partner, NCC works with people, communities, businesses and government to protect and care for our country’s most important natural areas. Since 1962, NCC has brought Canadians together to conserve and restore more than 15 million hectares. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.
The Government of Canada’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program (NHCP) is a unique partnership that supports the creation and recognition of protected and conserved areas through the acquisition of private land and private interest in land. To date, the Government of Canada has invested more than $440 million in the Program, which has been matched with more than $870 million in contributions raised by Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the country’s land trust community, leading to the protection and conservation of more than 790,000 hectares of ecologically sensitive lands.
To learn more about the Ecological Gifts Program, please visit: https://www.canada.ca/ecological-gifts
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