Articulations of Wild Rose Conservation: The Land Trust Movement in Alberta
Hanson, Lorelei L.
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The accelerating fragmentation of landscapes across Canada and their conversion into industrial, residential and recreational uses has sparked growing concern about how these areas might be protected from intensive and extensive development. Decreased public expenditures for conservation purposes and disappointments with state-led land protection efforts has resulted in a greater focus on private sector solutions, and out of this has emerged an increased interest and expanded provision for land and water protection through land trusts. Over the past two decades, land trusts have become one of the fastest growing segments of the conservation movement in Canada, whereas in Alberta it is only in the last decade that there has been much activity and growth in the numbers of land trusts. While at first glance some have viewed land trusts as privatized conservation mechanisms (McLaughlin, 2006; Stephens & Ottaway, 2003), a closer examination of their social, economic and ecological objectives indicates that in a manner characteristic of social economy organizations, they inhabit the space between the public and private sector. Drawing from interviews with more than a dozen individuals involved with land trust organizations, I explore the land trust movement in Alberta. I introduce the concept of the social economy as a means of exploring the brand of conservation that is unfolding in Alberta as result of the growing popularity of these private-sector conservation solutions.