Endangered Species

Endangered Habitat, Past and Present


Photo cred: ErikaWittlieb

This week at Terra Informa we deep dive into a recent World Wildlife Fund report on conservation lands across Canada, hear from University of Alberta professor Rene Belland about less promoted endangered species, and visit an archive from 2010 about a public land sale known as “Potatogate”.

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WWF asks “how much is enough?”

Terra Informer Hannah Cunningham goes in depth on a recent World Wildlife Fund report that asks how much land is needed to conserve at-risk species and how Canada has been handling the challenge. The report is titled “Wildlife Protection Assessment: A national habitat crisis”  and and maps out key ecological gaps in Canada’s existing protected area network while highlighting places that should be considered high-priority areas for protection.

Rene Belland talks Porsild’s Bryum

Terra Informer Hannah Cunningham interviews University of Alberta professor and “Moss Boss” Dr. Rene Belland about endangered species that don’t get the same attention as our polar bears and killer whales, but are no less at-risk. Watch this video from the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute about the recovery of an endangered species of green, cushy, water-loving moss named Porsild’s Bryum to see the Moss Boss in action!

Public Land sales and Potatogate

We revisit an archive from 2010 featuring Terra Informers Alex Hindle and Ian Mackenzie, with an interview of Alberta Wildlife Association conservation specialist Carolyn Campbell about a proposed sale of endangered prairie grasslands. The story investigates the massive sale of 16,000 acres of Crown grass lands to private developers – known as POTATOGATE. The sale tried to be secretive, but was unearthed by engaged citizens and media, who responded with fury. Did the land sale go through? Listen to find out or read about the history of Public Land sales in Alberta here.

Download program log here.


Book Club: Being Caribou

Male caribou with big antlers strutting across a meadow

Grab an ice cold drink and settle into your lawn chair: it’s the Terra Informa Summer Book Club! You’re invited to read along with us and share comments or reviews via email, twitter or on facebook. This month, Yvette Thompson leads a discussion on Karsten Heuer’s non-fiction book, Being Caribou.

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A telling tailings tale and the disappearing Greater Sage Grouse

The Greater Sage-Grouse, an endangered bird, sits peacefully on the ground.

Sorry to be pushing you to extinction, Mr. Grouse, although you sure do look fabulous. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Wild Rose province bears two dubious distinction that we’ll explore this week. Alberta is home to some of Canada’s most endangered animals, and it is also the location of Canada’s worst ever coal tailings spill. Our reporters give you an update on the aftermath of October’s Obed Mine spill. But first, we explore the human stakes in the fight to save Canada’s Greater Sage-Grouse.

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Caribou Special

For this week’s Terra Informa, we present a special episode from out of the archives. It’s The Caribou Special, originally aired in March, 2011.

Declining caribou numbers have sparked concerns over the long term viability of herds. There are fears that several herds may even be on the brink of collapse. With many northern people relying on caribou as a major part of their diets, it’s a problem that has governments and communities worried. So just how serious is the decline? Is it natural or human induced? And what does it mean for people who rely on Caribou? To find out we talk to a biologist, native hunters, a sociologist and an economist about the state of Canada’s iconic caribou.

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Caribou near Watson Lake in the Yukon. Photo by Bruce McKay.

The Battle Over Logging

This week we bring you the stories of two communities who are battling to save their forests. Logging began this past week in habitat crucial for the survival of Canada’s endangered spotted owl near Chilliwack, British Columbia. We talk to a representative from the Western Canada Wilderness Committee about this issue. Construction of a large highway is currently planned through an area with 300 year old trees near Wakefield, Québec. Our correspondent caught up with protestors while on the road in Québec.

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Protestors in the trees near Wakefield, Quebec. Photo by Steve Andersen and Rebecca Rooney.

Logging began this past week in spotted owl habitat located near Chilliwack, British Columbia. Spotted Owls are one of Canada’s most critically endangered species and logging is taking place in an area the BC government had previously set aside for the protection of the spotted owl. To delve deeper into this issue Terra Informa correspondent Myles Curry spoke with  Gwen Barlee of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee.

More on this story: CTV, Western Canada Wilderness Committee, CBC

Another battle over logging is taking place near the small town of Wakefield Québec, which is about an hour from Ottawa. For years, residents have been fighting the proposed construction of a new four lane highway which will result in the destruction of 300 year old trees. Locals also worry the construction may affect the town’s water supply. For more on the story, Steve Andersen catches up with protestors while on the road in Wakefield Québec.

More on this story: A5X (group opposing the highway), Terra Informa’s past coverage of this story


Kent in trouble over Woodland Caribou…again: The Environment Minister has refused to provide Woodland Caribou with the protection they need for survival.

More on this story: Winnipeg Free Press, Pembina, Ecojustice (1), Ecojustice (2), Alberta Caribou Committee

Northern Gateway transportation concerns alleviated: Transport Canada supports the increased traffic from supertankers from the coast of British Columbia to overseas markets in China.

More on this story: The Council of Canadians (1), The Council of Canadians (2)

Booming oilsands poses significant risks: Irreversible damages from Alberta’s oilsands may have a significant impact, both environmentally and financially, to the province.

More on this story: Sierra Club, Privy Council Office

Suppressed communication of scientific research: Accusations of stifling important health and environmental research have been made toward the Canadian government.

More on this story: Sierra Club, BBC

Commentary on The Cove & Climate Change Data

Terra Informa March 21, 2010 (listen/Download)Mandy with Dolphins

This week we have an episode of our recurring segment Garry the Garbage Guy for you. Also, we have a green-screen movie review by Alex Hindle, who will share his thoughts on the Academy award winning documentary film, The Cove. And Terra Informa correspondent David Kaczan brings us a special feature on the recent surge in climate denial. But first here is this week’s selection of environmental news headlines.

Liquid CO2 highway to keep GHGs out of atmosphere (Alberta Environment)
600 ducks died at Syncrude site in 1979, trial told (By Alexandra Zabjek, Edmonton Journal)
Probe turns up lead in bison, Bullet fragments in meat blamed (By Darcy Henton, Edmonton Journal)
Climate-change scientists ‘muzzled’, Ottawa’s interview rules reduce coverage, document says (By Mike De Souza, Canwest News Service)
New analysis compares U.S. and Canadian investments in sustainable energy in 2010 (Tim Wies Pembina Institute) Liquid CO2 highway to keep GHGs out of atmosphere (Alberta Environment)

Alex Hindle brings us a Green Screen Movie Review of the multiple award winning documentary, including the Oscar for best documentary, The Cove (check how the movie makers used their Oscar opportunity to advance social media activism). This movie explores a town (Taiji Japan) that appears to be devoted to the dolphins and whales which play off their coast line. However, behind this picturesque exterior lies it’s gruesome underbelly. Driven by a multi-billion dollar dolphin entertainment industry and an illegal dolphin meat trade. This movie unearths the chilling side of an industry long thought to have been “closed for business”.

Help Save Japanese Dolphins

Sea Shepperd

Bonus Video Footage

Totally unrelated site (*wink)

Steve Anderson revisits Garry the Garbage Guy to discuss the development of a new ECO Station in Edmonton in 2009. ECO stations allow for the safe disposal of household products that are poisonous, corrosive, flammable or any other product that can be harmful to human health or the environment. Everything from paints to computer parts can be disposed of at these stations which continue popping up around Edmonton.

List of what can be accepted at Eco Stations

Climate Scientists are telling us that our carbon intensive economies are creating an ever worsening climate problem. Scientific research into this topic first started in earnest almost 30 years ago, and the evidence has got stronger ever since. Whilst there are still uncertainties, and future projections are limited in their predictive power, the case for action seems clear. Why then, do we seem to be going backward at the moment? Next on Terra Informa, David Kaczan provides a commentary on this issue, and makes some suggestions for how the debate should move forward from here.

Check out Myles’s thoughts on the first annual #yegswap on this weeks terra bloga post.

Terra Informa March 21, 2010 (listen/Download)

Thanks of visiting and listening in this week, we are always looking for new volunteers, collaborations and ideas so post a comment or send us an email (terra [at] cjsr [dot] com)