New Birding Trail Unveiled, Nature Canada Signs Manitoba-Israel MOU Protecting Birds, Promoting Ecotourism
June 21, 2011 (Winnipeg) -Nature Canada is adding its signature to a birding and guiding memorandum signed by Premier Greg Selinger and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) last October, Water Stewardship Minister Christine Melnick announced today.
The minister made the announcement with Nature Canada at an event highlighting the importance of international co-operation for wildlife protection and promotion. The event also featured the unveiling of a new international birding trail shared by Manitoba and Minnesota.
“Today’s events showcase some of the many ways that Manitoba eagerly promotes environmental stewardship and ecotourism,” said Melnick. “The memorandum of understanding signed with Israeli nature officials last fall provides a framework for co-operation on nature tourism and environmental education. Nature Canada is a key player in national and international conservation, and we are delighted that they are signing on to the memorandum.”
“Partnerships are central to our organization’s work in nature conservation and education,” said Richard Yank, chair, board of directors, Nature Canada. “We are very pleased to participate in this unique collaboration with the Province of Manitoba and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel to promote and secure the protection of our global wildlife populations.”
Nature Canada is the lead organization on wildlife protection in Canada, as is the society in Israel.
As part of the memorandum, Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian nature officials will tour Canada next spring discussing their partnership on birding and protecting habitat, as a path to peace in the Middle East.
Melnick also launched the Manitoba section of a new Pine to Prairie International Birding Trail established between Manitoba and Minnesota. Along with officials from the State of Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources and Watchable Wildlife International, 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.
“The protection of wildlife truly transcends all borders,” said Melnick. “Our memorandum of understanding with SPNI and Nature Canada, and our partnership with the State of Minnesota, reflect Manitoba’s commitment to working globally as well as locally to ensure the future of our natural resources.”
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 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. In June 2012, the three project leaders will conduct a national tour to share their experience with Canadians.
The vision for this partnership began in 1995, when both Leshem and Atrash attended a meeting in Bethlehem and spoke on the subject of birdwatching. Following that meeting they decided to implement a vision of co-operation between Palestinians and Israelis in the field of birds. Jordanian participation began shortly after with the current partner being the Amman Centre for Peace and Development, under the leadership of Abu Rashid.
Since 1995, several projects have been successfully launched. The most extensive to date is The Use of Barn Owls and Kestrals as Biological Pest Controllers in Agriculture, which has attracted organizations such as the USAID Middle East Regional Cooperation program, the European Union via the Peres Centre for Peace, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, Tel Aviv University as well as the Palestinian Authority in co-operation with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. Supporting the Israel-specific initiative are the Ministry for the Protection of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture. Currently, there are 2,700 nesting boxes set up throughout Israel, 160 in Jordan and 160 set up by the Palestinian Authority.
All partners agree the greatest achievement to date is to illustrate the subject “birds know no boundaries” has 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, farmers, as well as people concerned with flight safety and the general public.
The future vision of this partnership includes extending it to include more partners, continuing to access the funding needed to carry out the projects, broadening connections with governments, promoting ecotourism and bird-watching tourism, promoting research and activities with the environmentally friendly agricultural community, reducing the use of chemical pesticides, promoting the protection of important bird areas, promoting regional protection of endangered species, developing internet databases reporting on activities and their results, promoting music, art, cultures and religious activities that are connected to bird watching and the environment in general, and continuing to broaden the partnership through the inclusion of like-minded individuals and achieving the designation of the Great Rift Valley as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Gen. (retired) Mansour Abu Rashid, chair, Amman Center for Peace and Development,