Age of Union aims to change the narrative of “doom and gloom” surrounding conservation, its founder says
“I’ve been connected to the cause of protecting nature and protecting species from my teenage days in B.C.,” Dasilva tells BCBusiness. Growing up in Richmond, he got started as an environmental activist by protesting the logging of old-growth forest in Clayoquot Sound as a 17-year-old.
When Dasilva launched environmental alliance Age of Union last October, he pledged $40 million to fund and support wildlife and threatened-species preservation projects around the world. Inspired by the 30 by 30 call to action—which saw Canada urge the biggest nations to protect 30 percent of their land by 2030—his donation to the Province “represents [his] belief that we can do that” and aims to set an example for what’s possible when citizens rally for conservation.
“I think these are the kind of stories that people like to hear,” says the executive chair of software company Lightspeed Commerce. “With the environment, there can be a narrative of doom and gloom. What Age of Union is about is showing that action is a source of hope for us and nature is still very much something that we can protect.”
The donation to the charity partner of BC Parks is for the seventh conservation project backed by Age of Union. Some of the funds will go toward conserving Pitt River Watershed in Katzie First Nation territory and French Creek Estuary in Qualicum and Snaw-naw-as First Nation territories.
BC Parks Foundation. Pitt River Watershed will also benefit from the funding by Age of Union“What’s so special about Pitt River Watershed is that it’s the last intact watershed that’s so close to the city,” Dasilva explains. “To know that there are wolves and elk and cougars and wild salmon all in this area—it’s been under intense pressure to be developed.” The donation will save the watershed for future generations, adds Dasilva, who believes that there’s much to be learned from studying its wildlife.
The French Creek Estuary, between Qualicum Beach and Parksville, has long been threatened by urbanization. A critical eagle nesting habitat, it’s also home to three fragile ecosystems and many other animals (including 19 at-risk species).
“Eagles migrate from Alaska to this area—it’s not an area that we can afford to lose,” Dasilva says. “Our mission is to be hopeful and positive; when we can see that we can prevent extinction by acting and by investing in something as critical as this type of nesting ground, we must do so.”
Unlike some conservationists, Dasilva doesn’t think lack of public awareness is an issue anymore. “We want people to be engaged at any level—whether they’re a private citizen, a business leader, a tech leader or a community leader,” he says. “We have these critical 10 years to turn the corner, and that’s why we have so many projects across so many different types of landscapes and even the ocean. There’s pristine nature not far from us; there are wild species not far from us. We need to protect them.”