Our Story Why We Exist
When it comes to solving a complex array of conservation issues, Albertans have a lot of questions. For example, what is the financial impact of wildlife on beef producers? What tools do municipalities need to effectively adapt to the impacts of climate change? Should we reintroduce beavers in some areas to increase watershed resiliency in Alberta? How do you stop animals from dying on highways and simultaneously increase highway safety for people?
Whether it’s by conducting and effectively communicating robust science and research, or through community engagement and strategic planning, Miistakiis has a long history of getting individuals and organizations what they need to make real progress on habitat and wildlife conservation issues. Our work aims to inform decision-making, ultimately putting conservation in the hands of the people.
“Miistakis is routinely viewed as an ‘honest broker’ of information and advice.”- Lorne Fitch, P. Biol., Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary
“Miistakis is highly regarded in the community and respected for the unique and diverse array of skills and tools they offer. They are often a go-to organization for philanthropic foundations looking for expert opinions on the environment and for help as a high-performing research organization.”-Pat Letizia, Executive Director of Alberta Ecotrust.
Our Impact What We Do
The Miistakis Institute specializes in working on complex environmental problems that require equally diverse skill sets and tools to resolve them.
“Working closely with governments, industry and the nonprofit sector, the Miistakis Institute is an important neutral third party with specialized skill sets in: spatial analysis, private land conservation, road ecology, market based instruments, wildlife management, citizen science, and ecosystem services. These skills are often critical in supporting environmental policy development and land use and watershed planning, and many of their staff are considered experts in their field.”
- Pat Letizia, Executive Director of Alberta Ecotrust
Working together is the key to success. We’re proud of the relationships we’ve built with numerous organizations that have ultimately resulted in healthier landscapes for people and wildlife. For example, our work with communities and government to identify and mitigate wildlife mortality and road safety issues along Highway 3 and Highway 1 led to an important relationship with Alberta Transportation that will see long-term conservation actions taken.
“Alberta Transportation has finally acknowledged that vehicle/wildlife collisions are a significant aspect of safer roads in Alberta, and the reports that [Miistakis] did along Hwy 3 and Highway 1 are considered the guiding documents over the next few years as the Traffic Safety Plan 2020 is implemented.”
-Don Snider, Alberta Transportation (now retired)
As we develop tools, we share them with other organizations to make their efforts more efficient and cost effective. For example, Our Road Watch on-line mapping tool (used to monitor where wildlife cross highways safely and where they are being hit) was built on an open-source platform and has now been replicated several times across the globe.
Another example is our Conservation Easement Web Resource. Conservation easements can be a powerful tool for landowners looking to fulfill long-term conservation goals on their property. To use this tool, landowners need access to basic information:
- What are conservation easements, and what are the benefits?
- Who are the eligible conservation easement holders in Alberta, where do they operate, and what are their priorities?
- How and where can this tool be used creatively?
We created this web site so Alberta’s landowners can answer these questions for themselves.
Our Programs How We Do It
At Miistakis, our approach is to first identify the information gaps and the needs of those working on the issue. Working with partners and people on the ground, we then succinctly define the problem and the appropriate course of action required to solve it.
We employ seven conservation professionals with a range of backgrounds and expertise including spatial analysis, research design, web-based mapping, fiscal analysis, land stewardship, community engagement, communications and wildlife ecology. This diverse set of skills allows us to be strategic, creative and nimble with the environmental challenges we face today.
We also work with academic and creative professionals outside of Miistakis in order to explore new ways to share information. For example. Miistakis partnered with award-winning filmmaker Leanne Allison to create a documentary (highwaywilding.org) that highlighted the innovations now available to design roadways with both animals and people in mind. The film was a screened at four international film festivals and was seen by over 70,000 people, proving itself as a potent vehicle for bolstering highway mitigation for wildlife from both environmental and economic perspectives.
'When you look at the movements of grizzly bear 122 this summer he traveled over 1600 km and crossed the Trans-Canada Highway (using wildlife crossing structures) over 66 times. These crossing structures were part of his daily life'.
- Jesse Whittington - Ecologist Banff National Park
Our Requests What You Can Do
Wetlands play a significant role in improving water quality and water quantity, and supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation. Despite their value, wetlands continue to be degraded and lost due to habitat loss, fragmentation, pollution and climate change. In Calgary, 90% of pre-settlement wetlands have been lost. Wetland losses significantly impact biodiversity and ecosystem services important to human well being. Action is needed by all stakeholders to maintain and restore wetlands in and around the City of Calgary. Tied to this, there is a strong need to better understand the health of Calgary’s wetlands, and to foster wetland stewardship activities.
To address this need the Miistakis Institute has designed a citizen science program called Call of the Wetland to document observations and calls from amphibians in Calgary wetlands.
Citizen science is a powerful approach to enable organizations to meet multiple goals simultaneously. Call of the Wetland aims to better understand the conservation of wetlands in an urban setting though monitoring of amphibians as an important indicator species, while also fostering wetland champions who are willing to take action to protect, maintain or restore wetlands. By engaging citizens in the monitoring process, we not only improve scientific literacy but the two-way flow of information about wetlands and the need for their protection. The positive impact within our community is therefore enhanced knowledge of Calgary’s natural environment in an urban setting as well as an increased number of people focused on maintaining or restoring wetlands and amphibian species within Calgary.
Call of the Wetland will be launched in Spring 2017. We are seeking additional resources to continue to support a local coordinator who will recruit new volunteers and work with volunteers to submit amphibian observations and to support the citizen science data collection tools.
How can you promote smart decision-making that leads to healthy landscapes, wildlife and people in Alberta?
Get Involved: Is there an issue that you care about and that you would like to see funded? Are you interested in citizen science? Check out opportunities on our website. See our projects.
Learn more about Miistakis at: http://www.rockies.ca/