How We Assist
Since 1991, Round River has been involved in Canadian conservation efforts in the Great Bear Rainforest, Muskwa-Kechika Management Area, Taku River, Southern Lakes and Yukon North Slope to protect and provide for First Nation protection and management of these iconic landscapes.
Round River Canada is an ecological and cultural research and education organization that supports local and indigenous communities to achieve their conservation vision for their lands and waters. We recognize that flourishing wildlife, wildness and wild places are important in and of themselves, and that conservation, to be sustainable, must be tied to the communities most dependent upon these landscapes. Round River Canada strives to provide Indigenous peoples with the means to ensure they can successfully defend, protect, and flourish within their traditional territories.
We take our name from Aldo Leopold’s instructive essay, Round River, along with the idea that ecological study enriches one’s personal land ethic.
Round River began in 1991 as a collection of conservation scientists, artists, and activists who came together out of a shared love for wildness. Over the years, we have learned the importance of collaborating with local people who have maintained strong, enduring land ethics, and the necessity of making long-term commitments to the land, water, and people where we work. From the outset, we recognized the importance of sharing our work with young adults, as well as the value of landscapes as the most visceral of educators.
Today, thanks to the perseverance of our supporters and partners, we are witnessing success. As a small organization, we are proud of our effectiveness, assisting with the creation of recognized conservation plans exceeding 100 million acres and over 12 million acres of designated protection. We also continue our partnerships long after plans are completed, helping implement and monitor success of our collaborative efforts and continuing to gather critical information to inform ongoing conservation decisions.
Multiple Ways of Knowing to Inform Conservation
Knowledge of place is the bedrock that anchors Round River’s conservation efforts, and we are committed to incorporating all ways of knowing to understand the cultural, ecological and social values of landscapes. Through our early efforts, Round River realized that our local partners possess a wealth of knowledge and expertise. Indigenous and local residents provide insights into present and past conditions; they understand regional ecological dynamics and know the locations of valued features such as rare, critical or high quality habitat. This knowledge not only forms the basis for our scientific research but also contributes to our building of positive and respectful relationships with the communities we work with.
We also know that science and scientific research provides invaluable insights into the secret world of Nature, and we use the powerful data, approaches and tools of science in two-eyed approaches with indigenous, traditional and local knowledge. What makes Round River unique is our ability to respectfully and powerfully bring knowledge sources together to inform conservation and planning, and to do so dynamically as we continually explore and adopt new approaches tailored to local needs. Most often our work focuses on building spatial information and maps about the values of a landscape, using GIS and related technologies.
Communities: Protecting traditional lands and livelihoods
Our first job is to listen to understand our community partners.
Round River’s approach to developing partnerships is rooted in the belief that local people and particularly indigenous communities are the rightful and strongest stewards of the land. Protecting and maintaining vast, wild places requires an enduring commitment, one that indigenous and aboriginal peoples innately possess. In hearing their stories, we learn about past and present land relationships and practices that inform strategies to support and empower communities to prosper while sustaining the ecological integrity and wildness of landscapes.
Listening to and working with local peoples enables us to establish a framework of mutual trust and respect, and the resulting plans balance ecological requirements with community interests regarding environment, society, culture, and economy. It is our fervent belief that when the protection and maintenance of wild places is situated within this broad and multidimensional framework, the chances of success are greatly enhanced.
Such efforts may include the protection of traditional lands, creation of jobs, educational and vocational training, support of business ventures, and cultural revitalization. These measures empower local communities to carry out their long-term vision for themselves and their land.
Conservation Strategies: Supporting land visioning, land planning and indigenous conservation
Through approaches of place-based knowledge, two-eyed seeing, and community-based work, we have had the honor to support indigenous-led land visioning, planning and conservation. The development of a Land Vision identifies the community’s cultural, ecological, social and economic values of importance and where these values and opportunities occur or may be developed across the landscapes. We have provided spatial data development, analyses and modeling to support these indigenous-led efforts.
We provide a diversity of spatial products to communities including development of TK-based wildlife habitat models and cultural landscape models as well as a diversity of other ecological models, climate change predictions, human footprint and use maps. The spatial data development and analyses provide spatial depictions of cultural, ecological and social values as well as the economic interests and current conditions of the landscapes. We bring these complex suites of values and constraints together into a spatial analysis and scenario development toolkit that allows our partners to explore the opportunities and challenges of meeting their conservation goals and to identify a Land Vision that best matches their community’s vision for their lands and waters. These tools provide a powerful information platform and decision support for land planning and conservation initiatives.
We support indigenous communities and governments to develop these tools but also to develop the strategies and resources to implement their Land Vision, for example through land planning, governance and conservation initiatives such as Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas.
Research: Collaborations to understand and conserve Nature
We are experienced in employing a diversity of research approaches and tools to answer a wide diversity of questions about the condition and dynamics of natural systems, including the following:
Research and population surveys on wildlife populations including observational, remote camera, hair-snare, GPS collaring and snow-tracking. Species include grizzly bear, woodland caribou, moose and wolverine.
Established long-term vegetation monitoring for climate changes in alpine landscapes
Developed approaches and deployed a diversity of tools to measure human use of landscapes, both on and off existing trails and roads.
Traditional Knowledge research, particularly to collect detailed information about the cultural values and habitat requirements of high value fish and wildlife species.
All of our research is strictly applied in nature to answer pressing questions important for the conservation of the target species or system and all of our research is in collaboration with partners, including the indigenous communities we most work with but also with other governments and institutions.