Birds Know No Boundaries

Birds know no boundaries – that was the theme last week at our annual general meeting in Winnipeg. After humans, birds are the most studied living things on this planet, and we have much to learn from them. Through international collaboration – sharing ideas, uniting our efforts – we can achieve so much more than any one group or nation can alone.
With that in mind, here are two news items to come out of a special reception we held, prior to our annual meeting, to celebrate international bird conservation efforts:

First, we added our signature to a birding and guiding memorandum originally signed by the Province of Manitoba and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) in October. Manitoba Minister of Water Stewardship Christine Melnick and Nature Canada Board Chair Richard Yank did the signing honours, before the agreement was sent to Israel for their signatures too.

Nature Canada Board Chair Richard Yank and
Manitoba Minister of Water Stewardship Christine Melnick
sign international birding memorandum.
SPNI and Nature Canada are partners in BirdLife International, a global alliance of conservation organizations working together for the world’s birds and people. The agreement represents a commitment between BirdLife International partners and the Government of Manitoba to find ways of jointly promoting birding, ecotourism, and the protection of birds and their habitat.

Partnerships are central to our organization’s work in nature conservation and education, so we’re pretty excited to participate in this unique collaboration. Something else we’re really looking forward to: taking part in a 2012 nationwide tour of our country by Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian nature officials.

For the past 15 years there has been co-operation between Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians on the environment in general – and migrating birds in particular – in an effort to show that the land of the Middle East can be shared and that positive interactions between the people and especially the students of the three nations is possible. Next June, the three project leaders will conduct a national tour to share their experience with Canadians.

This collaboration – a joint effort to set aside differences and just focus on a common love for birds – has already succeeded in building a bridge between people in this war-torn region and it has helped to bring together teachers, pupils, conservationists, birdwatchers, academic researchers, and farmers. Now they are bringing their message of peace to Canada while helping to raise awareness about birding and bird conservation. We’re excited to accompany them on part of their visit.

When the nature delegation comes to Canada, they’ll be sure to stop in Manitoba, which brings me to the second news item – Minister Melnick also launched the Manitoba section of a new Pine to Prairie International Birding Trail established between Manitoba and Minnesota. The minister unveiled the route map and highway signage for the Manitoba portion of the 800-kilometre trail that features 68 prime wildlife viewing sites between Detroit Lakes, Minn., and Hecla-Grindstone Provincial Park in Manitoba.

It was a wonderful reception filled with good news and inspiring stories – including those of our 2011 Conservation Award winners – thanks to our members and friends for a great time in Manitoba!