Do not be intimidated!

by George Smith

During my 14 years as National Conservation Director for CPAWS I gave strategic planning talks across Canada to new, small and developing conservation groups. During my presentations I usually tried to encourage people to first form a clear idea from Mother Nature about what really needed to be protected, and then go for the big beautiful whole thing.

To illustrate the value in this, I would compare my personal experiences during the campaigns to protect the Tetrahedron Wilderness on BC’s Sunshine Coast verses the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area (MKMA) in northern BC.

Neither campaign was what anyone would call just a walk in the park. Both required my friends, allies and me to work our tails off over several years, and both were ultimately successful. The Tetrahedron, while small by CPAWS standards, holds one of the oldest forest ecosystems in Canada while the MKMA shelters the greatest combined abundance and diversity of large wild mammals in North America. Both involved being slandered and bullied, and a lot of the other junk one often has to wade through to ultimately succeed in protecting Canada’s natural heritage. It took us 5.5 years for the Tetrahedron to be declared a provincial park and 5 years to get the first of two decisions on what eventually became the MKMA.

But here’s the point. Today, Tetrahedron Provincial Park is roughly 15,000 acres while the MKMA spans 16 million acres. It took no more work, personal commitment, grinding meetings or lost sleep to prevail in either case.

So, the moral of this story is: do not be intimidated by the size of the geography needing your support or by the size of the opposition.

Be bold... follow your heart... aim big... and go for it!