Meet a Board Member: Dale Kirkland

Elk Island National Park and Park superintendent Dale Kirkland are important partners of the Beaver Hills Biosphere.
Elk Island National Park and Park superintendent Dale Kirkland are important partners of the Beaver Hills Biosphere.

Get to know the people behind the Biosphere.

Dale Kirkland is no stranger to the Beaver Hills. Since the days of the Beaver Hills Initiative (the precursor to the Biosphere), Dale has been a champion of the region, helping the Initiative along its way towards its designation as a UNESCO Biosphere in 2016. In 2009, Dale was involved in the Beaver Hills Initiative and since 2016, he’s been an active member of the Beaver Hills Biosphere board.

“It’s been pretty special to see the Biosphere evolve from the Initiative to the UNESCO nomination to the designation a Biosphere,” Dale says.

After graduating from the University of Alberta, Dale went to work with the Government of Canada. Over the years, he’s held many titles, including Regional Director of Programs for the prairies and the north in Transport Canada – all of which inform his work today as superintendent at Elk Island National Park.

As the superintendent at Elk Island National Park and as a Biosphere board member, Dale has seen firsthand how important the Biosphere’s success is to the whole region. But what he thinks makes the Biosphere so special – and so successful – are the people and relationships, and results.  

Partner organizations and the people behind those organizations share common goals across the Biosphere such as and landscape-scale ecological connectivity, coexistence with wildlife, wetland conservation, promoting sustainable development and tourism, education, and supporting Indigenous voices within the Beaver Hills Biosphere. As a core protected area in and a partner of the Biosphere, Elk Island National Park’s role is also to serve as a benchmark and source of inspiration for conservation, sustainable development and the overall region’s biodiversity. Elk Island staff are actively involved in technical Committees and Community of Practices within the Biosphere. Dale is most proud of the work the Park supported for the development of the draft Human-Wildlife Coexistence Strategy. The Park’s involvement in the Biosphere also provides valuable opportunities to achieve results in support of priorities identified in the Park’s new Management Plan. 

“The people at the Biosphere table are truly dedicated and it's really special to be a part of group so committed to conservation, the region’s biodiversity, Indigenous relations and community education. We're all striving to achieve common goals,” Dale adds.

The key to the Biosphere’s success, as Dale tells it, comes down to the people and commitment. The commitment of Board members and those contributing to the Committees fuels the work and results. Everyone is ‘rowing in the same direction’ and working together to advocate for and conserve the Biosphere and create a great environment to achieve results.

“The Biosphere is in a wonderful position right now,” Dale says. “Brian, the Executive Director and all the brilliant colleagues from the Land Stewardship Centre are energized and we have so many great, committed people across the Biosphere Region involved.”