Boreal Habitat Conservation Initiative celebrates 10-year partnership

By: Alberta Conservation Association and Suncor Energy

In 2003, Suncor Energy and Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) formed the Boreal Habitat Conservation Initiative (BHCI) to conserve ecologically significant areas of Alberta’s boreal forest. Since then, with almost $4 million invested, more than 6,570 acres (29 parcels) of natural boreal forest have been protected as a natural space for fish, wildlife, vegetation and Albertans to enjoy. The BHCI began with a pilot project at Winagami Lake in Grande Prairie with a $200,000 grant to conserve 470 acres of habitat around the lake. The protected area complemented the adjacent provincial park ensuring connectivity and the natural ecological function of the land. The pilot project and partnership successfully proved how a conservation organization, a landowner and an energy company can team up to protect significant boreal forest habitat. Recognizing conservation is a long-term commitment, this partnership was initiated as a front-runner to the concept of voluntary offsets. The BHCI continues to acquire and manage habitat in the boreal forest, while looking for opportunities to include additional partners and make greater impact in protecting the boreal forest. The BHCI is a leader in collaboration supporting boreal conservation and is a model for how ACA has developed partnerships with other industries in this area.