Inspiration and facilitator for environmental protection and sustainability, Eliza Olson makes global impact with a local cause. Embracing current conditions and realistically powerful approaches, she is creating future leaders and inciting those already at the forefront to push even further. Eliza has raised the bog, elevating its protection, reputation and water table alike.
Society President Eliza Olson
Recognizing at a young age the significant ecological, cultural, and historical impact peatlands have worldwide, Eliza Olson dedicated her life to advocating for and educating others about these undervalued and often overlooked gems. She is the Voluntary Founding President and Executive Director of Burns Bog Conservation Society, which works to protect Burns Bog, a globally unique ecosystem in Delta, Canada.
Despite the fact that peat bog preservation and restoration can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 10%, and their exploitation release approximately 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, bogs had not been acknowledged in BC school curriculums until Eliza came along. One of only two organizations dedicated to peatland conservation, Eliza’s work is groundbreaking. Inciting educators, scientists and environmentalists worldwide to take a serious interest, bogs are now gaining global recognition for their important ecological value.
Thanks to the work of Eliza and her team, in 1988 a massive development of Burns Bog was turned down. Later in 1999 she convinced the Environmental Assessment Office to conduct an Ecosystem Review of the bog – the first non development-driven assessment they had ever done. Then in 2004, she was pivotal in getting four levels of government to purchase over 5000 acres of privately-owned bogland and place it under a conservation covenant.
Winner of the 2004 Canadian Geographic Silver Award for Conservation and 2007 Yves Rocher Foundation, Women of the Earth, Eliza, though happy, is still weary she “won the battle but not the war.” Though a large portion of the bog is now protected, it is still under threat with commercial development in the lagg and privately owned areas. She continues to persevere however, devising innovative ways of capturing new audiences.
After eighteen years of bringing people out to experience the bog first-hand, in 2010 Eliza plans on bringing the bog back into the classroom to address a missing audience of those unable to visit. For a cause with global impact, Olson recognizes she must also implement global methods. The new project, a Mobile Interpretive Centre, aims to make information accessible to a wider audience, with interactive and multi-lingual web-based experiences. As Olson frequently says, “we have to embrace the reality of the situation. These things are happening right now. The protection of the environment is not just necessary for future generations. It is necessary right now, for all of us, and we need to stand together and make it happen.”
For more information about Eliza and the work that she does, visit our website at http://www.burnsbog.org/
For more information about the Sophie Prize, visit their website at http://www.sofieprisen.no/