Across the province, there are countless individuals and organizations working very hard to preserve, protect, and enhance our environment.

Setting an example

Much of this work goes on quietly, without much recognition or encouragement. However, thanks to the support of donors and funding partners, Alberta is the only province in Canada to host the Emerald Awards program. The program celebrates the achievements of our environmental heroes at all levels.

With ten categories including youth, community groups, individuals, government, and business, the Emerald Awards have recognized over 450 inspiring recipients over the past 22 years. This underscores the fact that Alberta has a proud history of environmental excellence.

The carbon community

Many of the Emerald stories of excellence emerge from grassroots. Brad and Rebecca Rabiey began their Carbon Farming project in 2007, with a goal of addressing climate change, creating habitat, and sustaining their family farm.  

"Alberta is truly brimming with innovation, cooperation, creativity, dedication, and passion when it comes to stewarding our environment."

Starting on their family farm and then moving to municipalities and land trusts across the province, the Rabiey’s planted native trees, shrubs, and grasses to create forests that sequester carbon and help offset emissions. At the same time, they create a long term habitat for wildlife.  This also provided a sustainable business model for the family farm.  

By 2013, The Carbon Farmer had planted more than 300,000 trees, which equates to the reduction of about 126,000 tonnes of carbon, equal to the carbon footprint of 25,000 Albertans, as well as approximately 750 acres of new or restored forest habitat for wildlife! 

Protecting the past

Another example of grassroots environmental leadership comes from the Off The Creek Landowners, a group of landowners from the Central Alberta area who have taken the initiative to protect and enhance their riparian and native range areas on their properties. This has been a voluntary initiative, undertaken over five years, which resulted in 36 range and riparian management fencing projects, 14 off-site watering projects, three creek-crossing projects, one tree planting project, one buffer zone establishment project, one run-on/run-off management project, and three portable livestock shelter projects completed in that time. 

The Off The Creek Landowners were not required to do any of these projects. Instead, they worked together and implemented these initiatives as part of their commitment to improving the health of the land and waterways upon which they live.

Sustaining the future

Certainly, there are countless other inspiring stories of environmental leadership, relating to research and technology, improved business practices, engaging youth in the environment, and more.   Alberta is truly brimming with innovation, cooperation, creativity, dedication, and passion when it comes to stewarding our environment.

By providing a platform for our environmental leaders to share their stories and be recognized for their exemplary work, we are encouraging their continued commitment while inspiring action from others.

Emmy Stuebing
Executive Director,
Alberta Emerald Foundation