Half the world must be set aside for nature, says Canadian conservationist

Originally published August 27, 2017 by CBC Radio Canada

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Harvey Locke is a self-described “free range conservationist”.

His ancestors lived in the mountains of the Bow Valley before Banff became a national park, and he still lives in the town of Banff.

He happily shares his property with wildlife. It’s not rare for a grizzly bear, or a wolf, or a 700-pound elk to wander through his backyard.

Locke helped lead the charge in the 1990s to link together parks and protected areas along what he calls the spinal column of North America — the Rocky Mountains. He first discovered his passion for conserving the Canadian wilderness when he was attending college and living in a mountain town in the Swiss Alps.

“I was astonished over time that we didn’t see anything else that was alive there — how regulated the forests were, how the rivers were polluted, [how] the streams had all been dammed,” he tells The Sunday Edition‘s guest host David Gray.

“As lovely as it was visually, it was biologically terribly impoverished. To my great personal surprise, I kind of made a vow to myself: I am not going to let that happen to the Canadian Rockies,” he recalls.

The result is still a work in progress, but the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, which he helped spearhead, has led to wildlife overpasses on highways and connects habitats from the U.S. to Canada.

“It was just the new scale at which we needed to practise conservation,” he explains.

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