Stories

OSI Plays Matchmaker

Photo Credit: USFWS

Many conservation stories follow inspiring but similar patterns: Bucks. Acres. A place people love. All important details, of course. But when an OSI-funded project gets coined the “Moose Sex Project,” who can resist making a headline out of it

OSI’s role as wingman to the largest living member of the deer family is taking place in Canada, along a narrow bridge of land called the Isthmus of Chignecto. Linking Nova Scotia to New Brunswick, the isthmus is an internationally recognized corridor for wildlife such as bobcat, bear, the endangered Canadian lynx, and moose. 

OSI’s Transborder Fund gave grants to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to protect critical pieces of this wildlife corridor. NCC playfully dubbed the effort the Moose Sex Project because it provides the only route for large mammals on both sides of the isthmus to meet up, mate, and exchange genetic material. With OSI’s help, the human footprint on the isthmus will never grow so large that it leaves only a narrow pinch point of natural land, effectively making it impassable to moose.  

Wildlife corridors are the rationale for many conservation projects: Wild things thrive when genetic exchange can occur between different populations, and they risk collapse when it can’t. But what makes OSI’s Transborder Fund unique is its focus on wildlife movement across political boundaries.

Political borders are constructs: lines on the earth’s surface. But even without border fences, these boundaries can create barriers to wildlife movement. For example, although much of the northernmost United States has a relatively small human footprint, just next door in Canada, population and development are concentrated near the border. 

Creating effective cross-border wildlife corridors requires cooperation, but conservation organizations often delimit their work along political boundaries. The Transborder Fund brings neighboring organizations in Canada and the United States together around a common purpose. Another kind of matchmaking, if you will. 

The fund was created six years ago with the vision and support of the Partridge Foundation. Today, it is the only private funding source specifically focused on cross-border land protection projects in eastern North America. By the end of 2015, it will have helped conserve 55,000 acres by committing $2 million towards cross-boundary coordinated projects with partners such as NCC and the Vermont Land Trust.

And so we are matchmakers. That’s what it takes to protect wildlife corridors that just happen to have a political boundary running through them. Doing so helps ensure that the process of genetic flow among wildlife populations—which long preceded the establishment of the United States and Canada—will continue well into the future.