Working together so people and wildlife in the Biosphere have the space they need to thrive
Update: July 2021
Thank you to everyone who has participated in this conversation so far. Your input and insight are appreciated. We have learned a lot about the opportunities and challenges relating to coexisting with wildlife in the Beaver Hills Biosphere and are looking forward to incorporating your feedback into a Human Wildlife Coexistence Strategy.
What we’ve been doing
Over the past few months, we have been working to better understand community values, issues and priorities from people who live, work and recreate in the Beaver Hills as they relate to wildlife. In June we wrapped up the first phase of community engagement for this initiative. We heard from participants through collaborative online workshops, surveys, emails, one-on-one conversations and social media. During these conversations, we asked people how they experience wildlife in the area and how the Biosphere can improve these interactions.
Who we've talked to
To date, we have worked with key stakeholders, Indigenous rights holders, special interest groups, landowners, recreational users, researchers and other community members to understand how we can ensure people and wildlife have the space they need to thrive in this unique landscape.
What we heard
What human-wildlife coexistence means
People shared a variety of perspectives about wildlife as well as what the idea of coexisting with wildlife means to them. Some told us they live in the Biosphere because they want to be near wildlife. For those individuals, the idea of human-wildlife coexistence meant that any animals that could live in the Biosphere should be able to live here. Others said coexistence meant humans can live in landscapes occupied by wildlife with minimal to no negative interactions. For them that meant wildlife aren’t conflicting with people's livelihoods or causing damage to their property. Still others spoke about improving the connectivity of wildlife habitat and movement corridors at a landscape level.
People also shared the challenges they experience living, working and recreating near wildlife in the area. This included concerns relating to vehicle collisions with ungulates on roads in the Biosphere, livestock depredation by carnivores, property damage caused by beavers, habitat fragmentation and a general lack of understanding about typical wildlife behaviour.
Opportunities for improvement
Participants provided a range of areas where they see opportunities for the Biosphere to improve human-wildlife coexistence in the region. A recurring theme related to education and how we can better support people accessing the area through targeted information materials and education about wildlife behaviour. We also heard about design features and wildlife management tactics that could reduce interactions between people and wildlife before they happen.
We're now consolidating and reviewing information collected during the first phase of engagement. In the fall, we will continue working with community members to determine how best to promote human-wildlife coexistence in the area. From all of this, we will draft a Human-Wildlife Coexistence Strategy for the Beaver Hills that respects the needs of people and wildlife. This strategy will be incorporated into the Biosphere's broader conservation plan.
We'll update this project page as new information becomes available. You can also sign up for the Beaver Hills Bulletin and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more project news and updates.
Dialogue Partners Inc. is helping us on this project. If you have any questions about this initiative, or would like to get involved, please contact Lindsay at email@example.com or (780) 306-7576 ext. 105.
Beaver Hills Biosphere Reserve Association
Elk Island National Park Dialogue Partners