Weekend Warrior: Conservationist Jasper Lament is in his environment both at work and at home

Jasper Lament's work as CEO of the Nature Trust of British Columbia reflects his roots in the great outdoors.

Credit: Jennifer Kennedy

Lament’s work as CEO of the Nature Trust of British Columbia reflects his roots in the great outdoors

As someone who spends much of his time studying and protecting wildlife, Jasper Lament recognizes that he’s come full circle. CEO of the Nature Trust of British Columbia, Lament was born in Vancouver’s South Granville area, but his family moved out to the Fraser Valley when he was young and instilled in him a love of the outdoors.

Fishing trips in B.C.’s Interior with his dad were a regular occurrence, along with family vacations and camping trips on Vancouver Island. “I became fascinated by nature and by fish,” says Lament, who ended up doing a PhD in fish biology at the University of Miami.

“Along the way, I realized I wanted to work in conservation rather than research,” he adds. “As I was finishing up my PhD, I looked for opportunities to break into the conservation business and subsequently spent most of my career doing that.”

Lament returned home and worked in environmental risk management with Crown corporation BC Hydro before becoming CEO of the Nature Trust, which manages ecologically significant land in the province, in 2012.

Ironically, he and his wife found themselves living in South Granville. “We had our first baby, and I was taking him for walks in the same park that my mom took me every day when I was a baby,” Lament says.

But as the family eventually expanded to five, he knew he had to make like his parents did and flee for (literally) greener pastures. Instead of the Valley, he chose to venture up the Strait of Georgia to Powell River.

These days, both his occupation and his downtime involve plenty of observing nature. “I’m always watching wildlife, whatever I’m doing,” Lament says. “Yesterday, I was on a phone call, and I had to interrupt it to say, Oh, wow, there’s a humpback whale, as I was sitting at my desk looking out at the Salish Sea.”

Wildlife is just part of the deal where Lament lives. Not that he’s complaining. “There are lots of bald eagles around here, great blue herons,” he says. “In Powell River, they’re kind of just around. Deer come through our yard, occasionally a black bear.”

But even though he’s in a better location for it, Lament can’t do the kind of fishing he enjoyed a decade ago—the days of spending 10 to 12 hours out on a boat with his friends are out the window. “Now with kids, their attention span is a lot shorter,” he laughs. “A few weeks ago, a friend picked us up in his boat, went off Lund and dropped some good B.C. lures and fished for probably not even an hour. Didn’t even catch anything—the kids were bored, and it was time
to go.”

It’s still possible for Lament and his family to take in nature, though. “Earlier this summer, we found a dock and caught some shiners under it; they were absolutely thrilled,” he says of his three children, the eldest of whom is seven. “It’s been a journey of trying to find ways to help them enjoy the outdoors like I do, but in a way that’s meaningful to them.”

Lament also tries to encourage his kids to follow another passion of his, bird watching. “I’ll pick them up from school, drive along the waterfront, see some great blue herons, play a game with them,” he explains.

“Say, Hey, did anybody see any water birds today? My seven-year-old is pretty good, says, Oh, there was a great blue heron. In the winter, we have a lot of harlequin ducks and black oystercatchers, these cool marine birds that are very accessible to them. I always point them out and try to get them interested in it.”

Lament’s own most memorable fishing trips are the ones with his father, especially an annual visit to Paradise Lake (just outside of Merritt), starting when he was about nine.

“We stayed in rustic cabins and brought these old, beat-up rental rowboats into the lake and caught lots and lots of small rainbow trout; it was just so fun,” he recalls. “And then as my brother and I got interested in catching bigger fish rather than many small fish, we started exploring other areas around B.C.’s Interior.”

To Lament’s delight, it appears that his efforts to get his children interested and invested in wildlife are paying off. That much was evident on a recent trip to his parents’ place. 

“One of my kids got really excited to see the frogs in the pond my parents dug up on the property,” he says. “One of my family members asked me that day, How did you get interested in conservation? And I pointed out my son catching frogs in my parents’ pond and said, Because that was me, catching the ancestors of those frogs.” 

Warrior Spotlight

Jasper Lament is CEO of the Nature Trust of British Columbia, a nonprofit conservation agency. The Vancouver-based Nature Trust and its 20 employees purchase land and conserve its biological diversity. The organization, now in its 50th year of operation, has more than 500 properties across the province, accounting for some 178,000 acres. “We raise money from a combination of private donors and government grants and businesses,” Lament says. “Basically, anyone interested in helping to conserve land for fish, wildlife, people, plants. And then we care for it.”