Across the province, in every rural community as well as the larger centres, thousands of people are working to protect and sustain the environment. Their affiliations range from local watershed groups monitoring water quality to large provincial organizations lobbying for better environmental regulations and policies.
More than 110 of these groups and organizations belong to the New Brunswick Environmental Network (NBEN). The NBEN, a non-profit organization based in Moncton, encourages networking and collaboration on environmental issues across the province.
About 95 representatives attended the NBEN Eco-Confluence event and annual general meeting on November 16 at The Ville in Marysville, near Fredericton. The agenda included about 30 speakers from different member groups who engaged the participants with workshops on topics such as using social media more effectively and mobilizing environmental action, as well as presentations on current environmental actions and projects.
At the event, the NBEN presented five environmental awards recognizing individual citizens and member groups for their outstanding community service. Symbiose, the student environmental group at Université de Moncton, was recognized for their mobilization of students and the Greater Moncton community in solidarity with the global climate movement. The NBEN recognized the Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance for their protection and restoration of freshwater habitat in the Petitcodiac and Memramcook River. EOS Eco-Energy based in Sackville was honoured for their community leadership and empowering local solutions to climate change in the Tantramar-Memramcook region.
The NBEN gives its annual Gaia Award “to a group or individual who has dedicated their efforts to the earth and the species that inhabit the earth.” This year, Megan de Graaf, Forest Ecologist with Community Forests International, won the recognition for her “deep understanding of the connection between people and forests, for her dedication to building rural capacity for the conservation and restoration of the Acadian Forest, and for doing so with great care, curiosity, and respect.”
The final, special, award was presented to the Conservation Council of New Brunswick “in recognition of their 50 years of environmental action and leadership in New Brunswick.”
Raissa Marks is the executive director of the New Brunswick Environmental Network.