Protecting nature close to home | Annual Reports | 2011 | Publications | David Suzuki Foundation
The proposed Rouge National Park is almost twice as large as all city parks in Vancouver and Montréal combined.

This year, you helped us protect natural areas close to Canadians' hearts and homes. By signing petitions, writing letters, and raising your voices on behalf of the places you love, you helped ensure that future generations will be able to explore nature in their own backyards.

Green light for the Rouge

Kayakers enjoy the scenery in what we hope will become Canada's first urban national park.

Our campaign to help establish Canada's first urban national park made extraordinary progress this year. In its 2011 throne speech, the federal government formally committed to establishing Rouge National Park, one of the largest urban parks in the world. It will stretch from Lake Ontario to the Greenbelt at the east end of Toronto, protecting more than 6,000 hectares of forests, fields, wetlands, and streams. It will give residents of Greater Toronto the much-needed opportunity to explore the wonders of nature without leaving the city.

Saving Fish Lake

Thanks to the efforts of concerned Canadians and environmental organizations like ours, the federal government rejected a mining proposal that would have destroyed Fish Lake, near Williams Lake in the B.C. Interior. Renowned for its wildlife, including grizzlies and a unique species of rainbow trout, Fish Lake had been targeted by Taseko Mines Ltd., which planned to drain it, dam tributary creeks, and dispose of mine waste in the drained lake. The Foundation and others motivated thousands of Canadians to send letters to the government demanding the plan be rejected. Their calls were heard and heeded.

Celebrating the St. Lawrence

In May, David Suzuki and George Stromboulopoulos explored the Magdalen Islands and rallied support for the protection of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The St. Lawrence became a key focus of our efforts this past year. Our Montreal office launched the Our Living River campaign, aiming to build watershed stewardship and reconnect the millions of people who rely on the St. Lawrence River for drinking water with this iconic natural resource. In this first year of the project, we trained 30 St. Lawrence Ambassadors to communicate the importance of the river and held a St. Lawrence Action Day, motivating Quebecers to participate in community events in its honour.

But our efforts didn't end at the river. The Gulf of St. Lawrence is under threat of oil and gas exploitation, and we aim to ensure its protection. We played a pivotal role in the creation of the St. Lawrence Coalition, which unites environmental organizations and local communities in the fight for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration and exploitation in the Gulf. The Coalition is now known as the most trustworthy and reliable source of information among all environmental organizations dealing with oil and gas issues in the area.

Profile: Dr. Faisal Moola

Program Director, Terrestrial Conservation and Science Toronto

My parents came to Canada in 1969 as political dissidents from South Africa. Like many new immigrants, we first settled in the inner city, then moved out to the suburbs. I spent my summers rambling across the fields, farms, and forests close to home, in what is now the Greenbelt, on the edge of Toronto. The lesson I carried with me is that nature doesn't need to be a destination. Nature can be as close as our own backyards. But costly and polluting urban sprawl and other unsustainable practices threaten the best of the natural world, closest to home. At the Foundation, I lead scientists, policy experts, and campaigners committed to protecting near-urban nature as well as wild forests and lands throughout Canada.