The work has just begun

Catherine Grenier and John Lounds (Photo by Brianna Roye)

Catherine Grenier and John Lounds (Photo by Brianna Roye)

We sat down with past president and CEO, John Lounds, and our new president and CEO, Catherine Grenier, for their thoughts on the accomplishments of the Landmark Campaign and what’s next. Both agree the work is just beginning.

NCC: John, the Landmark Campaign was one of the boldest initiatives in NCC’s history. What gave you the confidence that we’d get it done?

JL: Our supporters! Back when we launched the campaign, conservation sometimes didn’t feel bold enough to address the challenges of a rapidly changing world. But our supporters, donors and partners challenged us to think bigger.

The Waldron Ranch, for example, where we worked with more than 50 ranchers to put a conservation agreement on 12,357 hectares (30,535 acres) of habitat along Alberta’s Highway 22, challenged our notions of what we could do and how far we could go. This campaign was built on the idea that if we could do one project of that scale, we could get 540 done in a way to advance conservation and engage Canadians to inspire the next generation.

NCC: What was the biggest surprise for you?

JL: I wasn’t so much surprised as I was gratified that so many people joined our efforts. We saw that Canadians care about nature. Together, we mobilized to deliver a historic and lasting impact. Thousands of Canadians, from coast to coast to coast, took conservation into their own hands and gave to save the lands and waters that sustain us all.

NCC: What was your proudest accomplishment throughout the campaign?

JL: The scale of the projects is impressive, but what was really amazing was how the Landmark Campaign opened up opportunities in local communities. Do you know that more than 90 per cent of Canadians live within 100 kilometres of a Landmark Campaign project?

The Landmark Campaign opened up opportunities across Canada, to work with partners, Indigenous communities, governments at all levels, landowners, Conservation Volunteers in their local communities and more. NCC’s role is to help facilitate the success in terms of achieving those goals. We’re there to bring together the resources, the thinking, the people and the capabilities. That’s what we are all about: moving things forward and getting it done.

NCC: Catherine, where do we go from here to engage more people?

CG: We will build on NCC’s tremendous success, thanks to our donors and supporters. One of the first things we will be doing next is raising awareness about the great work and the impact of our donors in recent years. The campaign has strengthened our collective commitment to nature. Now, we will build on that momentum. We need to provide meaningful opportunities for Canadians of all backgrounds to come together and work with us in a very tangible way.

NCC: You’ve joined NCC just as we’re celebrating this tremendous success. What does conservation look like moving forward?

CG: I think the stars have never been more aligned for conservation in Canada, and the need has never been greater. All major habitat types are still in decline. The dual threats of climate change and biodiversity loss  urgently need our attention. We need to act now to make sure the lands, waters and natural beauty we cherish today will be here for generations to come. NCC is uniquely positioned to make meaningful change. We’ve been recognized as one of the most trusted conservation organizations in Canada. But despite our success, we need to accelerate the scale and scope of conservation. If we want to do it faster, we have to do it differently. That will take innovation and collaboration. And that’s what we will focus on in the next few years.

Together, we are changing Canada and the world. When conservation becomes a way of life, it benefits all life. Conservation today is much more cost effective than trying to restore natural areas in the future.

This story originally appeared in the Winter 2021 issue of the Nature Conservancy of Canada Magazine. To learn more about how you can receive the magazine, click here.

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