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“An interesting retirement”: Member Gordon Kelly’s adventures in forestry and duck banding
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“An interesting retirement”: Member Gordon Kelly’s adventures in forestry and duck banding

My family home was in Montreal, and my grandparents had a place in the Laurentians. It was 400 acres of woodland, but as a boy, I remember feeling like I could explore forever. So, I was brought up in two places. And I liked the wild better. I became interested in birds very early. At 13, in 1947, a friend and I found a local bird club, and we were the youngest members in history! Back then, there were rules about kids going to movies or lectures without an adult, so until we were 16 one of our moms had to come. I remember the thrill of going on field trips with experienced bird watchers, who helped me identify birds even just by song! At 16, I had a family member whose sister was married to a forester and I thought that sounded just amazing. I went for an interview when I was 16, but I couldn't be hired for a summer job until I was 17. I was hired that summer and sent to the farthest operation in the St. Maurice Division called Cooper Lake, situated at the headwaters of the Nottaway River which flows into James Bay. [caption id="attachment_33342" align="alignright" width="300" class="right "]Fall folliage in field next to the La Croche river Fall foliage in field next to the La Croche river. Photo by Gordon Kelly[/caption] It was my first time in the Boreal Forest. 1951, Virgin forest, and logging was just beginning. The black spruce...unbelievable. It was then I decided to become a Forester. In 1987, with my son, we purchased our woodlot of 225-acres. There were some red pine plantations on the property dating back to the early 1960s. We have since added another 225-acres for a total of 450 which we manage with my son and grandson who are also Foresters. I can't tell you what it means to me, to my family. It's the most beautiful place, full of memories and stories. And about 20 years ago back in 1996, not far from my house, I was walking on a trail near a swampy area, very overgrown. I noticed a pair of Wood Ducks. As I went exploring, I realized it was an old beaver pond, and that I could pull out some of the alders and other growth. One of my sons, who today manages migratory bird banding stations in the Yukon, at the time was learning to band at Long Point. Word spread and I was contacted by a biologist who asked me to start banding. [caption id="attachment_33345" align="alignleft" width="300"]Image of Gordon Kelly releasing a Wood Duck Gordon Kelly releasing a Wood Duck[/caption] On average, we band 155 ducks per year, some that return. I had one last year that I banded five years ago! And one year we had 255 ducks! It's been an interesting and rewarding retirement indeed! Why do I support Nature Canada? Because education is so important. You see it mostly in the kids, but really so many Canadians don't get out in nature. We've become disconnected. We can't just continue to exploit nature without consequences. I'm a Guardian of Nature monthly donor, and I know that my regular support makes a difference. It means Nature Canada can get people more involved in nature, in making citizens and our governments more aware of the importance of nature conservation.

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Canadian Conservation Work Serves as a Role Model
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Canadian Conservation Work Serves as a Role Model

The World Parks Congress took place this past week in Sydney, Australia. This is the world’s largest event that brings focus to parks and protected areas around the globe. So how is Canada’s conservation different from everyone else? It is because Canada is home to a rare treasure, one of the largest still intact regions left - the boreal forest. Here is a short list of the top five reason’s Canada stands out in conservation: 1) One of the World’s Last Great Primary Forest: Canada’s boreal forest has an area of 1.2 billion intact acres, and it contains 25% of the world’s primary forests. There are more that 300 bird species, as well as being home to many large mammals such as grizzle bears and moose. The boreal forest even has an estimate of more than 208 billion tonnes of carbon stored, making it an important part of our ecosystem. 2) Indigenous Conservation Leadership Canada’s boreal forest has had some impressive conservation gains from those in Indigenous communities and government. These Indigenous communities have been the ones to launch some of the most signification conservations actions in relation to the boreal forest. 3) Very Large Protected Areas The protected areas in the boreal forest are large and they are important in the northern biodiversity. They allow species to roam without barriers and serve as a key habitat for long-distant migratory animals. 4) Provincial Government Vision and Leadership Our provincial government in both Ontario and Quebec has pledged to ensure that at least half of their northern lands are classified as protected areas. 5) Industry and Conservation Leaders Several industries have joined the First Nations along with Nature Canada and other leading conservation non-profits to come together in supporting the need of conservation in the boreal forest. Through a number of councils and frameworks, these groups have established a working relationship in order to advance on future conservation proposals. Canada is putting forth tremendous conservation efforts to protect the boreal forest and it’s time to celebrate that. To read more on Nature Canada’s conservation efforts in the boreal forest, click here. For the full article, click here.

What’s that tropical bird doing in my yard?
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What’s that tropical bird doing in my yard?

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="320"]Evening Grosbeak Evening Grosbeak by Doug Greenberg, a bird of the Boreal forest[/caption] It’s a question some people find themselves asking as they sip their morning coffee on their balcony and are treated to the sight of a bird – a ‘tropical’ bird. Alex MacDonald, our protected areas manager, found himself pondering that question one morning while sitting on his parents’ balcony in Nova Scotia. Earlier that year, Alex had lived in Panama and had become accustomed to the sight of the colourful, tropical birds in that country. You can imagine his surprise when he thought he spotted one in the Canadian Maritimes! It was in fact an Evening Grosbeak, a bird common to the Boreal forest. Many of the species of bird that are commonly seen or heard in the spring in Canada are migratory birds that spend the winter in a warmer country south of the border. After over-wintering in warmer parts of the U.S., and in Central and South America, some migratory birds return to Canada for the summer to breed and raise their young. One of the most popular destinations for returning birds is the Boreal Forest. What draws billions of birds to the Boreal Forest every year? Abundant waterways, from rivers and swamps to lakes and wetlands, are characteristic of the Boreal forest  and provide plentiful food and shelter for breeding and nesting birds. But before reaching the Boreal, migratory birds will stop in the more populated areas of Canada to rest, refuel and wait for favorable weather conditions to continue their migration. Don’t be surprised to find unique visitors to your yard this spring as the birds wing their way north! You can help them reach their northern breeding grounds by following one of these 12 ways to help birds. And if you happen to snap a photo of a migratory bird, we’d love it if you shared your nature photography with our Facebook fans! Happy birding.

Indigenous Peoples of the Boreal Forest: Connected to the Land, Birds and Water
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Indigenous Peoples of the Boreal Forest: Connected to the Land, Birds and Water

[caption id="attachment_26426" align="alignnone" width="300"]flock of migrating canada geese in silhouette at sunset flock of migrating canada geese in silhouette at sunset[/caption]
For millennia, the boreal forest has supported indigenous peoples. Hundreds of distinct Aboriginal and Metis communities have lived in the boreal forest for generations. Their lives are intimately connected to the land, water, and birds, which are intertwined with their way of life, their survival and well-being. For the Cree of James Bay and Hudson Bay, the annual spring migration of geese is an exciting time and an important one for passing down cultural values.Lilian Trapper, Land Use Planning Coordinator for the Moose Cree First Nation on James Bay, describes the spring goose hunt:
“Geese are a main staple food for the people of James Bay. During the spring goose migration, community schools close up for up to two weeks as most people are out on the land at their family camps for the spring goose hunt. This is one of the peoples’ most important seasonal cultural events. It’s a time for gathering, sharing, learning, and reconnecting ourselves to the land. Knowledge of values and morals are passed on and the traditional teachings associated with the hunt are shared. These include respect, patience, honour and gratefulness to name a few… The goose hunt is not just a goose hunt. There is so much more as it is a lifestyle from our ancestors and for future generations as well.”
To the boreal’s Aboriginal peoples, the forest ecosystem and their traditional culture are one and the same. They do not separate themselves from the forests, rivers, birds and other wildlife when they talk of their homeland. When the boreal is threatened by industrial development, this affects the whole ecosystem, one that includes wildlife and habitat and the people who call the forest home.More and more, governments, companies, and non-governmental organizations are realizing the importance and necessity of ensuring Aboriginal rights and titles are respected in all land-use decisions. Nature Canada has been working with the Cree of James Bay and Hudson Bay on land-use plans that are good for birds and for people. On a national level, the government of Canada has taken a step towards recognizing the rights of First Nations and Inuit Peoples to their lands, territories and resources by signing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in late 2010.

Boreal Forest: Bird Nursery of the North
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Boreal Forest: Bird Nursery of the North

The Yellow Rail is a threatened species that breeds in Canada's boreal forest
What makes Canada’s boreal forest one of the most productive places for breeding birds in the world?Water. The wetlands and waterways of the boreal play a crucial role in providing a feast of insects and fish for the one to three billion birds that breed in the boreal every year. While the boreal forest wetlands provide abundant habitat for a multitude of wildlife, birds are the most visible. With spring at our doorstep, billions of birds will soon be returning from their wintering grounds after a long migration. Their return coincides with a surge in available food throughout the boreal forest. Insects are hatched from the multitude of water bodies as soon as the ice melts, yielding a protein bonanza for the birds’ survival. Swarms of midges, mosquitoes, black flies and a host of other insects define the months of June and July in the boreal. Many species of birds, and later their young, take full advantage of this rich food source and its abundant larvae. Boreal breeding birds and their offspring also feed on fish and aquatic invertebrates that live in the waterways. All birds – landbirds, waterfowl, waterbirds and shorebirds – that breed in the boreal, depend the wetlands for safety, shelter and food so that they can successfully raise their broods and prepare for risky migration across vast distances. Quick Facts:
  • An estimated 38% of all waterfowl of Canada and the United States breed in the boreal forest
  • As many as seven million shorebirds are estimated to use the boreal’s wetlands for breeding.
  • The boreal forest supports more than 50% of the global population of 96 bird species.

Nature Canada Receives Award for its Efforts to Conserve Wildlife Habitat in Canada
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Nature Canada Receives Award for its Efforts to Conserve Wildlife Habitat in Canada

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="320"]Image of Alexander MacDonald holding up a Gold Leaf award Alexander MacDonald, Nature Canada's protected areas manager, holds up a Gold Leaf award[/caption] We're honoured to have been awarded the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas' Gold Leaf award for our efforts to conserve wildlife habitat in Canada. Alexander MacDonald, Nature Canada's protected areas manager, was on hand to accept the award at the Council's annual conference held in Ottawa on Wednesday. “We appreciate the recognition bestowed on our efforts by the members of the Council,” said Alexander. “Canada’s wildlife depend on a strong, well-managed network of national wildlife areas and migratory bird sanctuaries that protects vital habitat for birds and species at risk." Nature Canada received the award this year for its outstanding support to the conservation community and its sustained effort to raise awareness on national habitat conservation issues. For more than five decades Nature Canada has championed the completion of the national parks system and the development of a connected network of protected areas on land and at sea. In recent years Nature Canada has been a strong advocate for the establishment of national wildlife areas and greater protection of the Boreal Forest. Nature Canada is a member of the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework and the Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy, working to protect at least 50% of the Boreal in a network of large interconnected protected areas. At the conference, Nature Canada released its latest report, The Underlying Threat: Addressing Subsurface Threats in Environment Canada’s Protected Areas. The report offers solutions for protecting the natural resources below the land surface in the same way as the natural resources – like water, plants and other wildlife – on the surface. Subsurface land protection is important to the overall ecological integrity of new and existing protected areas. “There is tremendous potential for development of oil and gas, or mineral resources found beneath Environment Canada’s protected areas, and an urgent need for clear, up-to-date policies on what is and isn’t permitted,” said Alexander. “The current permitting system is not designed to manage subsurface resource exploration and development.” Unlike National Parks, the protections afforded national wildlife areas and migratory bird sanctuaries do not extend below the land surface to prevent development, exposing protected areas to a range of environmental problems, including habitat loss, soil contamination, and water pollution.

Send Letter Urging Stronger Protection for Endangered Boreal Woodland Caribou
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Send Letter Urging Stronger Protection for Endangered Boreal Woodland Caribou

Image of a caribou
**Less than two weeks remain for you to help protect the Boreal Woodland Caribou by sending a letter urging stronger protection for this endangered species** The Boreal Woodland Caribou is threatened by industrial activities that have caused some herds to be critically endangered – and the rest are under increasing pressure. The federal government recently proposed a recovery strategy  to boost the Caribou’s numbers. While an important step in the right direction, it needs to be stronger to ensure a return to vibrant Boreal Woodland Caribou populations across the country. How can you help? The recovery strategy is open to public comment until February 22, 2012. Send a letter asking Environment Minister Peter Kent to take these measures: 1. Strengthen the goal The proposed strategy allows a 40% chance that herds will continue to decline – this is an unacceptably weak threshold. Make it a strategy for recovery, not continued decline. 2. Protect more habitat The proposal would keep, at most, only 65% of the caribou’s range intact, and as little as 5%.  Much more than 65% of habitat needs to remain intact for self-sustaining caribou populations to thrive. 3. Don’t kill wolves instead of protecting caribou Indefinite killing of wolves, moose, and deer is not an acceptable alternative to protecting caribou habitat. This is not a sustainable solution – protecting intact habitat is the solution. With your help, we can speak up on behalf of the Boreal Woodland Caribou and ensure stronger measures are taken to protect this iconic species. Send your letter today!

Happy World Wetlands Day!
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Happy World Wetlands Day!

[two_third]Every year on February 2, the world celebrates the ecological integrity and sustainable use of wetlands around the globe. World Wetlands Day has been recognized in more than 120 countries since the signing of the Wetlands Convention in Ramsar, Iran on February 2, 1971.Canadians can be especially proud when it comes to their water.More surface freshwater is held within Canada than any other country. The vast majority lies within the Boreal Forest, stretching from Newfoundland to the Yukon. All this water, coupled with the Boreal forest’s compact growing season, makes it a haven for all wildlife, particularly birds. In one of the world’s largest migrations, billions of birds migrate from the Boreal forest to wintering grounds in the United States and the tropics, returning each spring to nest. More than 300 species, including large portions of the global population of many species, nest and breed in the Boreal forest largely because of the region’s abundant wetlands and undammed waterways.Water is the defining element of the Boreal forest. Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake, receives most of its water from the Boreal forest. The Mackenzie river, Canada’s wildest big river that stretches over 4,200 kilometers, is also the Boreal forest’s longest river. The rivers, lakes, swamps, bogs and marshes of the Boreal not only host billions of birds, but also play a critical role in stabilizing the Earth’s climate. The Boreal’s  ice-locked and water-saturated forests and peatlands, and sediments in its lakes and deltas, are some of the largest storehouses of carbon on the planet. They take up and release greenhouse gases, making them key regulators of climate through their role in the global carbon cycle. But the Boreal forest is under pressure from industrial development and climate change. Birds at Risk: The Importance of Canada’s Boreal Wetlands and Waterways, examines the impact of industrial expansion on three natural areas in the Boreal that are critical for birds. Produced by Nature Canada, Boreal Songbird Initiative, and Natural Resources Defense Council, the report examines the importance of Canada’s wetlands and waterways for birds and highlights conservation opportunities to save Canada’s freshwater and the billions of birds that depend on it. Stay tuned for excerpts from Birds at Risk in the coming weeks as we explore the importance of the Boreal forest for birds and people. Want to take action to protect Canada’s water bodies today? Show your love for your favorite water body by signing our Love My Lake Declaration! With excerpts from A Forest of Blue - Canada's Boreal Forest: The World's Water Keeper. [/two_third] [one_third_last][caption id="" align="alignnone" width="320"]Image of Oscar Lake Oscar Lake, Northwest Territories by D. Langhorst, Ducks Unlimited[/caption][caption id="" align="alignnone" width="320"]Image of a Rusty Blackbird Rusty Blackbird breeds in the Boreal forest. It's facing a 90% population decline. Photo: Jeff Nadler[/caption][/one_third_last]

Stop Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline
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Stop Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline

Image on an Otter
You can't protect something once it’s gone.Imagine it: Pollution from tanker traffic. Devastating oil spills. Destruction of pristine habitat for sea otters, killer whales, seabirds, caribou and even iconic spirit bears.That’s what’s awaiting British Columbia’s northern coast and hundreds of species of birds, animals and other wildlife that thrive in this region if we don’t take action right now. The controversial Northern Gateway Pipeline project proposes to carry tar sands oil from Alberta across the Rockies to the northern B.C. port of Kitimat. Giant tankers -- some nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall -- loaded with crude oil headed for Asia would navigate through the pristine and rugged northern B.C. coast at the unbelievable rate of about one every second day. If given a go-ahead, the pipeline project would: •    Fragment the boreal forest, home to birds and other wildlife, including Woodland Caribou and Grizzly Bears. •    Expose the Great Bear Rainforest, home to wolves and the iconic Spirit Bear, and 30 internationally recognized Important Bird Areas teeming with marine birds, fish and other animals to potential oil spills and pollution from increased tanker traffic. •    Risk irreversible harm to the livelihoods of many coastal and aboriginal communities. Image of a map of oil spill damageNature Canada and BC Nature have officially registered to participate as interveners in the environmental assessment of the Northern Gateway Pipeline project. As interveners, we are providing expert testimony about the impact that the pipeline and increased tanker traffic will have on marine birds, Important Bird Areas, and other wildlife like the woodland caribou. But we need you too. Raise your voice! Send your letter and be part of our efforts to protect B.C.’s fragile coast from tanker traffic and oil spills. We’ll take your message directly to the panel when we take part in the public hearings. It's simple: when you move oil, you spill oil. It's not a question of if a spill will occur -- it's a question of when. Our country’s wildlife is depending on us to speak up on their behalf and put a stop to the Northern Gateway Pipeline project before it’s too late. Add your voice and send your letter today!

Enbridge Fails to Make its Case on Northern Gateway Pipeline
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Enbridge Fails to Make its Case on Northern Gateway Pipeline

As you surely have heard, hearings for the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project (NGP) begin today in northern BC. Enbridge is proposing to build a pipeline that would carry oil from the tar sands to a port at Kitimat, British Columbia. After travelling nearly 1,170km through pristine wilderness and First Nations homelands, tar sands oil would be loaded on tankers and sent through treacherous waters to Pacific markets.
Nature Canada and BC Nature are jointly participating in the review of the NGP due to our deep concern about the project's potential impact on wildlife, including birds, and their habitats. With the limited funding we received from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency we have concentrated our review on the potential impacts of the project on marine and terrestrial birds and their habitat, including Important Bird Areas (IBAs), and terrestrial wildlife and habitat along the proposed pipeline route, with a focus on Woodland Caribou and birds at risk.
Over the many months of hearings starting today, the Joint Review Panel will hear oral evidence from other interveners and from thousands of interested persons -- apparently all 'radicals' or foreign-backed stooges -- who have registered to share their views about the project.
Our written submission was prepared by our three experts, specializing in marine bird ecology, demography and behaviour; marine and terrestrial bird species at risk; terrestrial and marine bird distribution, abundance and ecology, Important Bird Areas; wildlife habitat and management, and applied biology on the industry-wildlife interface.
Enbridge has failed to adequately assess the potential effects of the project on marine birds, birds listed under the Species at Risk Act (SARA), IBAs and Woodland Caribou. Without additional assessment, the Panel will not have an accurate understanding of the potential impacts of the project and of a project-related oil spill on marine birds.
In short, what's wrong with Enbridge's proposal?
  • Enbridge ignores important potential impacts of the project on marine birds, like artificial light induced mortality, collisions, chronic oiling and others.
  • Enbridge has failed to consider the effects of a potential oil spill on several Important Bird Areas that protect huge seabird colinies.
  • Enbridge has also failed to consider the potential impact of oil spills on open ocean wanderers such as albatrosses and shearwaters.
  • Along the pipeline route, Enbridge has failed to assess the potential effects of the proposed pipeline on freshwater wetland IBAs and on several bird species at risk.
  • As for caribou, it is clear that the project is a significant cumulative increment of risk for the Little Smokey, Narraway, Hart and Telkwa Caribou herds, whose habitat the proposed pipeline corridor bisects and which are listed under the Species at Risk Act as Threatened.
  • Enbridge acknowledges there will be impacts on caribou, but they incorrectly identified caribou mortality in winter as the determining factor for population viability, despite recent literature that clearly documents that summer mortality is prevalent. Based on this error, they then find that there will be insignificant impacts on caribou from the project.
  • Our written evidence shows, however, that the Northern Gateway Pipeline project will exacerbate the current decline in the Little Smokey, Narraway, Hart and Telkwa Caribou herds through cumulative effects and increased mortality. The pipeline will likely contribute to the extinction of two or more of these Woodland Caribou herds.
Stay tuned for more details on our findings in the coming months, including spotlights on some of the amazing birds and seabird colonies that are threatened by the Northern Gateway project. And if you want to participate, even if you didn’t register for the hearings, you can still share your views with the Panel by submitting a letter of comment before March 13, 2012.

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