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Little owl on the prairie

June 9, 2015
The Burrowing Owl is one of the prairie species at risk that Vale is helping to protect. Photo: Courtesy of Nature Saskatchewan.

The Burrowing Owl is one of the prairie species at risk that Vale is helping to protect. Photo: Courtesy of Nature Saskatchewan.

Let us introduce you to the Burrowing Owl, the Loggerhead Shrike and the Piping Plover – just a few of the species at risk that we are helping to promote awareness of.

This month, Vale’s Kronau Project community investment team announced a $20,500 donation to Nature Saskatchewan, a conservancy group that is appealing to prairie landowners to conserve habitat for birds, plants and other species at risk in their shrinking prairie habitat.

“This sponsorship with Nature Saskatchewan is a beautiful fit with our focus area to progress responsibly, which is directly related to Vale’s value: Prize our Planet,” said Kathryn Pollack, land, environment and community (LEC) leader for the Kronau Project.

Our contribution will help the organization develop its Stewards of Saskatchewan project that aims to make ranchers and farmers more aware of the benefits of conservation, and learn about local species at risk. It will help fund events like Conservation Awareness Days, held three times a year, inviting rural landowners to gather for a meal, learn about the mutual benefits of agriculture and biodiversity, share best practices – and even get up close and personal with a Burrowing Owl.

Vale volunteers plan to be on hand for some of these events. The next one is planned for the month of July.

We’ve had the opportunity to get to know the farming community in Saskatchewan closely, as one of the benefits of solution mining – the method used by our proposed potash mine – is that agricultural land on the surface can continue to be productive. This land would be leased out by Vale for farming, even after the mine is built and operational.

But we’ve also learned, first-hand, how precious the wild Prairie grasslands are in Southern Saskatchewan – one of Canada’s most endangered landscapes – and how protecting it is vital to a healthy environment. About 85 per cent of southern Saskatchewan’s grasslands are privately owned, so this kind of education and active landowner stewardship is integral to conserving the habitat.

“Building an understanding and awareness of the local environment through partnerships with organizations such as Nature Saskatchewan allows us to illustrate our commitment here, while also developing our knowledge of the unique conditions in Saskatchewan,” saidPollack.

For these land stewards, and for us, a profitable and well-functioning operation depends on a healthy environment.



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