British Journal of Canadian Studies

Shared Visions, Shared Wildernesses: Wilderness Conservation in the Grasslands of Southern Saskatchewan

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2009), 22, (1), 87–114.

Abstract

Two centuries of hunting, agriculture and economic development have caused declining biodiversity and ecological integrity in the prairie ecozone of southern Saskatchewan. The environmental revolution that started in the 1970s brought a renewed vision to protect remaining wildlife and its habitat, and restore keystone mammals. NGOs and government agencies are acting as partners in this vision, and have been increasingly successful in working cooperatively with land-users such as ranchers, farmers and the water and energy industries. New conservation areas and new initiatives to reintroduce extirpated animals and their habitat offer hope to those who wish to see a new balance between prairie inhabitants and wild nature. However, conservation is not an exact science, and 'fashions' and 'agendas' exist, with inevitable debates about priorities. The article assesses the successes and limitations of these conservation initiatives in the Saskatchewan prairies, and draws conclusions relevant to nature conservation in Canada as a whole.

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Atkinson, Ken