Alberta sells off native prairie grasslands & New York’s green roofs

Last year there was public outcry when Albertans learned their province was planning to sell off a large parcel of prairie grasslands to a private company intent on plowing it under to become irrigated farm land. Now the same area is on the chopping block again and there’s a battle brewing. On today’s show we hear from one woman who’s fighting the development. We also talk to a researcher in New York who has been studying green roofs — rooftops that are planted to vegetation — and we explore the concept of the green tax shift.

Download this week’s show.

Prairie grassland in southern Alberta. Photo by Brett Snyder.

Public Land Sale in Alberta

In the Fall of 2010 Alberta’s Sustainable Resource Development ministry was criticized by media and public interest groups for what was seen as a secret attempt to sell off public land. If the deal had gone ahead, the 6,500 hectare parcel of native prairie grasslands in southwestern Alberta would have been converted to an irrigated potato farm. Amidst the public outcry the company, SLM Spud Farms, withdrew from the deal.

Now, a year later, the Ministry is trying once again to sell the land to intensive agriculture interests, but this time through an open bidding process. The land is currently habitat for several species at risk, is itself a rare ecosystem, and is actively used as grazing land by several cattle ranches. To find out more about this story, Terra Informa reporter Ian Mackenzie spoke to the Alberta Wilderness Association’s conservation specialist, Carolyn Campbell.

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Green Tax Shifts
What’s tax got to do with the environment? Well, potentially quite a bit, as David Kaczan explains in this week’s Ecobabble segment. Some economists and politicians are talking about a “Green Tax Shift”, a new way of designing the tax system to creates jobs while reducing pollution such as carbon emissions, traffic congestion, and acid rain. If you’ve heard the term “green tax shift” but never knew what it meant, this week we have the answer for you.

Green Roofs
Jason Aloisio is an urban ecologist, working at New York City’s Fordham University. He was recently recognized for his work by the Ecological Society of America at their annual conference in Austin, Texas. Terra Informa correspondent Rebecca Rooney was there and caught up with him to ask about his research into green roofs.

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