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IBA Local Action Fund
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IBA Local Action Fund

Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada are injecting new energy into the Important Bird and Biodiversity (IBA) program. Over the past 20 years, millions of dollars and tens of thousands of hours of volunteer hours have been invested in protecting birds at Canada’s IBAs.  We are committed to keeping Canada’s IBAs as a centrepiece of our site-related bird conservation work. From 2008 to 2014, Nature Canada and in some cases First Nation partners, aimed to get an ‘on-the-ground” stewardship and advocacy presence in IBAs from local groups and individuals.  Over this entire period, Nature Canada and BSC have worked hard to protect Canada’s IBAs through outreach, advocacy with governments and industry, and mobilization of citizen scientists to monitor IBAs. A year into the new phase of IBA conservation work: the IBA Local Action Fund has worked to protect and conserve birds from coast to coast, including three in Nova Scotia, one in New Brunswick, one in PEI, one in Newfoundland-Labrador, three in Quebec, two in Manitoba and two in British Columbia. Thanks to the support of thousands of donors—Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada are working with local groups on specific projects to protect, restore and enhance biodiversity and ecosystem integrity. Here are a few features on how we are putting your membership to work protecting Canada’s birds!


[caption id="attachment_34523" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Image of Black Oystercatchers Black Oystercatchers[/caption] Laskeek Bay IBA, Charlotte BC Project: Fostering local champions to protect seabirds Summary: The Laskeek Bay Conservation Society has worked with local individuals to monitor and manage invasive predator species, namely racoons and rats, that are threatening breeding birds in the Laskeek Bay IBA. The Laskeek Bay IBA is a nationally significant breeding site for a multitude of seabird species, including Ancient Murrelets, Pigeon Guillemots, Black Oystercatchers, and Glaucous-winged Gulls. The Laskeek Bay Conservation Society will continue to develop environmental stewards and enhance local capacity to understand and support this IBA. [AnythingPopup id="209"]
[caption id="attachment_34524" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Image of Great Blue Heron by Jim Dubois Great Blue Heron by Jim Dubois[/caption] K’ómoks IBA on the Coast of British Colombia Project: Working with First Nations Guardian Watchmen on the K'omoks IBA. Summary: BC Nature has worked with First Nations Guardian Watchmen, who monitor & protect lands & waters on First Nations' territories along the Vancouver Island coast. The partnership has worked to identify shared bird conservation issues and lay the groundwork to integrate bird monitoring into current Guardian Watchmen stewardship programs. Both the K'omoks Guardian Watchmen and Haida Gwaii First Nations members have been engaged in this active stewardship program. [AnythingPopup id="211"]
[caption id="attachment_15193" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Image of a Burrowing Owl Burrowing Owl[/caption] Oak and Plum Lakes IBAs, Manitoba Project: Cultivating local leadership to protect a mosaic of habitats and species. Summary: The Oak Lake and Plum Lakes IBAs provides a unique mosaic of habitats on the northeast periphery of the Northern Great Plains. Oak Lake is part of the Eastern Mixed-grass Prairie Regional Priority Area, an area prioritized for its high biodiversity value, high concentration of Species At Risk, and its unique ecological/biological landscapes. These diverse habitats are home to a number of species that need protection. Nature Manitoba has worked with indigenous groups and non-indigenous communities to establish a caretaker and stewardship network for this IBA. [AnythingPopup id="212"]
[caption id="attachment_34525" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Image of a Red Knot Red Knot[/caption] IBAs of Manitoba’s Hudson Bay lowlands: Seal River Estuary IBA, Churchill and Vicinity IBA, Nelson River Estuary and Marsh Point IBA, Kaskattama River Estuary IBA, Manitoba Project: Monitoring Hudson Bay Coastal IBAs in Partnership with First Nations. Summary: Nature Manitoba has worked to engage local community members from Churchill and local First Nations in stewardship and monitoring on Hudson Bay coastal IBAs. The IBAs of Manitoba’s Hudson Bay lowlands are poorly known and susceptible to a range of threats from climate change to disturbance. This area is of high significance for many species including Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Black Scoter, Rusty Blackbird, Red Knot, Hudsonian Godwit and Cackling Goose. The IBA Program is now recognized by a number of people living and working around Churchill and has raised awareness of this area for High Arctic shorebirds. [AnythingPopup id="213"]
[caption id="attachment_34526" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Image of a Semipalmated Sandpiper Semipalmated Sandpiper[/caption] Minas Basin IBA in Nova Scotia (Bay of Fundy) Project: Developing a Safe Shorebird Roost Site in the Minas Basin IBA. Summary: The food-rich mudflats of the Minas Basin IBA support over 100,000 Semipalmated Sandpipers in addition to tens of thousands of other shorebirds during fall migration. Because of its very high ecological value as shorebird stopover site, the Minas Basin is designated as both an IBA of global significance (Semipalmated Sandpiper is the primary IBA trigger species) and a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) site of hemispheric importance. A number of beaches are primary high tide roost sites used by shorebirds in the Minas Basin IBA. Intense summer recreational pressures, particularly striped bass fishing, coincide with peak fall migration in August. Through community events and outreach to local recreational users, businesses and tourism operators this project is will on its way to creating safe spaces for roosting shorebirds. Next steps the partners hope to build a volunteer program to support the continuation of these strategies in future years. [AnythingPopup id="214"]
[caption id="attachment_34527" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Image of a Roseate Tern Roseate Tern[/caption] North Brother Island IBA, southwestern Nova Scotia, Universite Saine-Anne, Church Point, NS Project: Collaborative effort to protect the Roseate Tern breeding colony in the gulf of Maine. Summary: This is a collaborative effort between stewards from Université Sainte-Anne and long-time North Brother Island IBA steward to protect the Roseate Tern population on North Brother Island through habitat assessment and enhancement activities and human impact mitigation. In order to protect the North Brother Island IBA, the Roseate Tern and other species of conservation interest, the group has worked to experiment with different management techniques to protect nesting Roseate Tern from predators and habitat degradation. 35 active volunteers supported this stewardship work over the past year, 12 of which are new to bird conservation stewardship! [AnythingPopup id="216"]
[caption id="attachment_6102" align="aligncenter" width="320"]Image of a piping plover Piping Plover[/caption] Island Nature Trust IBA, PEI Project: Collaborative effort to protect the Pipling Plovers in the Island Nature Trust IBA. Summary:  Local groups worked to minimize human disturbance of tourism while educating visitors of the importance of the Island Nature Trust IBA and the Piping Plovers that breed there. The Island Nature Trust staff and volunteers developed conservation conscious training programs and educational materials to the community in order to protect the Piping Plovers. Building the capacity of local watershed groups and Mi’kmaq conservation groups will continue to build community awareness and support local decision-making that considers IBAs in the context of their ecological sensitivities. [AnythingPopup id="217"]
[caption id="attachment_29460" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Image of a Atlantic Puffin by Chris MacDonald Atlantic Puffin by Chris MacDonald[/caption] Point Lepreau and Maces Bay IBAs surrounding the Bay of Fundy, NB Project: Co-operative efforts to protect the Bay of Fundy from potential oil spills. Summary: The entire Bay of Fundy is of critical importance for the Atlantic Flyway, which migrating birds use in spring and fall as they travel between breeding and overwintering grounds.  With existing shipping and industrial activity and the potential of increased oil tanker traffic from the Energy East project, there is real concern about the impact of potential oil spills on birds and marine life.  As Energy East has demonstrated little interest in studying the impact of oil spills, Nature NB wishes to work with local partners to develop a strategy to increase awareness of the risks and impact of oil spills, encourage action at local IBAs and incite public insistence on protecting the environment upon which so many birds populations depend.  The groups have worked on implementing adequate safety measures to protect migratory birds and their habitat. [AnythingPopup id="218"]
[caption id="attachment_24800" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Image of a Bufflehead Bufflehead[/caption] Port L’Hebert and Port Joli harbours IBA, southwest shore Nova Scotia- Harrison Lewis Coastal Discovery Centre Society Project: Building a public campaign to create a new marine protected area that would protect coastal IBAs in Nova Scotia.    Summary: Nova Scotia local groups have worked to increase awareness in order to protect Port L’Hebert and Port Joli harbours IBA home to a number of species including Ipswich Sparrows, Piping Plovers, Green-Winged Teals, Norther Pintails, Common Goldeneyes, Buffleheads and more. By engaging local residents, fishers, the Mi’kmaq community, and local landowners, has worked with volunteers to work with Department of Fisheries and Oceans to protect the marine environment, bird life and biodiversity in these IBAs. [AnythingPopup id="219"]
[caption id="attachment_23621" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Semipalmated Sandpiper Semipalmated Sandpiper[/caption] Ile aux Basques et les Razades IBA. rois-Pistoles, Québec. Project: Collaborative management action plans to protect Common Eiders on the Ile aux Basques et les Razades IBA. Summary: The “Societe Provancher d’histoire naturelle du Canada” with the collaboration of some partners, including scientists from universities, volunteers and environmental organizations, undertook research to inform management actions to preserve nesting species on the island. They wanted to find the best method to manage Double-crested Cormorants in order to preserve a small population of breeding Common Eiders as well as some shorebirds. Their habitats are strongly impacted by the increase in cormorant populations. Volunteers made a mapping of the vegetation of the Razade Islands for students to analyze. The Societe Provancher will continue to invite volunteers from previous years to continue their involvement in the project. [AnythingPopup id="220"]
[caption id="attachment_26228" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Image of a Snow Goose Photo from Flickr, Tony Battiste[/caption] Battures-de-Beauport IBA - Groupe d'éducation et d'écosurveillance de l'eau.   Project: Creating a community of concern for the Battures-de-Beauport IBA to protect Shorebirds. Summary: The “Groupe d’éducation et d’écosurveillance de l’eau” (G3E) created an educational program about the Les Battures de Beauport IBA called“1, 2, 3 ZICO!” project. The IBA is in a very heavily populated area with many sources of disturbance including industry, shipping, pollution and significant recreational pressures.  The area is known for its huge concentrations of Snow Geese and also as a stop-over for migrating shorebirds.1, 2, 3 ZICO (Zone Important pour la Conservation des Oiseaux – the French name for IBAs). The campaign was successful in raising awareness of the conservation issues affecting the IBA and the need for the development of solutions to protect the area among local residents and policymakers. [AnythingPopup id="221"]
[caption id="attachment_26191" align="aligncenter" width="275"]Image of an Atlantic Puffin Atlantic Puffin[/caption] Witless Bay, Newfoundland Labrador Project: Engage local community in workshops to reduce human threats to Atlantic Puffin colony. Summary: Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Newfoundland-Labrador Chapter worked to protect the Atlantic Puffin colonies in the Witless Bay, IBA. For six years, CPAWS NL has worked within communities in close proximity of the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve to rescue and release puffins and petrels who become stranded on the mainland because of attraction to artificial lights. Light attraction from the local town is a source of mortality for young birds. The CPAWS local chapter has worked on a community solution to this problem so that young Atlantic Puffins and Leach’s Storm Petrels are not victims of local lights. The project has worked to reduce human disturbance to nesting seabirds in the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve IBA; to increase knowledge and engagement among local citizens in the stewardship of the IBA; to increase awareness of the IBA and its conservation needs among the general public and visitors to the region. [AnythingPopup id="222"]
Baie de Brador IBA, Ile aux Perroquets, Point Amour, and the Strait of Belle Isle IBA, Labrador:  Quebec Labrador Foundation (QLF) Project: This project has worked to improve local knowledge of the value of the Baie de Brador IBA, threats to its birds, and result in increased community engagement in IBA stewardship and support for the Migratory Bird and Sanctuary. Summary: Through meetings and workshops, the project worked to inform, guide, and motivate local leaders to reduce disturbance to the IBA and promote its ecological value. It worked to train youth to ID seabirds, prevent disturbance from boats, and conduct beach clean-ups. [AnythingPopup id="226"]
Habitat degradation, climate change, pollution, and human impact pose grave threats to Important Bird Areas and Canadians need to band together to protect these critical habitats and wildlife. The IBA Action Fund was created to give much-needed funding to protect hundreds of species of birds across Canada - and now you can help too! A gift today will be put to action to: • Protect Habitat from several threats • Save hundreds of species that call these IBAs home • Help on the ground efforts to maintain and conserve IBAs for generations

Give Today! 


Time To Get Use To A New Acronym – Key Biodiversity Areas or KBAs
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Time To Get Use To A New Acronym – Key Biodiversity Areas or KBAs

[caption id="attachment_21694" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Ted Cheskey Ted Cheskey
Senior Conservation Manager[/caption] Get ready Canada for a new site-based conservation tool. Nature Canada is thrilled to be part of the leading edge of groups charged with introducing Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) to Canada.  Building on Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs), which are about birds if you weren’t sure, KBA covers all visible forms of biodiversity from mammals to millipedes. Identifying and protecting them will contribute significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity, just as IBA protection is helping birds. KBAs are identified by applying the criteria and thresholds included in the “A Global Standard for the Identification of Key Biodiversity Areas” approved by the Council of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in April 2016. This standard applies to all levels of biodiversity (genetic, species and ecosystems). There are 11 criteria grouped under five categories:

  1. Threatened biodiversity;
  2. Geographically restricted biodiversity;
  3. Ecological integrity;
  4. Biological processes; and
  5. Irreplaceability through quantitative analysis.
The Standard and its criteria were developed through extensive consultation and build on four decades of experience in identifying sites of biodiversity importance including IBAs identified by BirdLife International, as well as efforts to identify Important Plant Areas, Alliance for Zero Extinction sites, KBAs under previous criteria and related approaches. KBAs are not legally protected areas though. They are much like IBAs in this respect. They do, however, provide a strong biological basis for protection–something that Nature Canada will be mobilizing its partners and supporters to help ensure. [one_half] [caption id="attachment_35690" align="alignnone" width="460"]Image of Red Knots Red Knots, photo by Ted Cheskey[/caption] [/one_half] [one_half_last] [caption id="attachment_35691" align="alignnone" width="460"]Image of bird watchers on Charlton Island Garry and Marc-Antoine on Charlton Island[/caption] [/one_half_last] KBAs were introduced to Canada during a workshop led by the IUCN and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) that was associated with the annual meeting of the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas (CCEA) in Quebec this past fall. Emerging from that meeting was a National Coordination Group (NCG) for KBAs and the elements of a plan to introduce and implement a KBA program in Canada. Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada (BSC), as Canada’s official BirdLife Partners, with over 20 years of developing and implementing IBAs in Canada, are on the National Coordination Group for the Initiative. One of the first steps in the KBA process will be determining which IBAs satisfy the KBA criteria.   BSC is currently conducting that assessment, but at a crude scale, most of the IBAS in Canada that are “globally significant” (e.g. one percent or more of the global population of a species) will become KBAs. IBAs will not disappear, but some will gain the additional status of KBA. The federal government is very interested in supporting the KBA initiative, given the strong potential for KBAs to add value to its Pathway to Target One initiative to protect at least 17% of Canada’s lands and inland waters and at least 10% of its marine and coastal territories. Nature Canada is ready to engage its Nature Network, consisting of provincial and local partners, in the KBA initiative. Local naturalists are one of the best sources of knowledge on species occurrence and abundance. We believe that the naturalist community has tremendous knowledge to contribute to identifying and monitoring potential KBAs. We are also counting on local support to help secure legal protection for these areas. Stay tuned for more on KBAs!
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Nature Canada shines at the Latornell Symposium
Purple Martins pair at bird house complex
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Nature Canada shines at the Latornell Symposium

[caption id="attachment_21694" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Ted Cheskey Ted Cheskey
Senior Conservation Manager[/caption] The Latornell Conservation Symposium is one of Ontario’s premier annual events for conservation practitioners, policy makers, environmental NGOs, and academics. The Ontario government, Conservation Ontario, the University of Guelph and many other organizations sponsor the symposium. It provides a unique forum to share work, research, and ideas with others working in the same or a similar field including those who interpret and enforce the policies that protect nature. This year’s symposium in late November explored the succession of science, knowledge, policy and organizations and the nature of this change on the environment. Nature Canada’s Ted Cheskey and Megan MacIntosh participated in Wednesday’s proceedings, and presented Nature Canada’s work to protect and recover the rapidly declining Purple Martin and Threatened aerial insectivores as part of a session called “On a wing and a prayer: the plight of our birds.” The three-hour session featured a screening of the full-length documentary “The Messenger,” introduced by film Director Sue Rynard and Producer Joanne Jackson, followed by presentations from Dr. Bridget Stutchbury, author of Silence of the Songbirds and member of Nature Canada's Women for Nature, Dr. Doug Tozer from our BirdLife Canada partner Bird Studies Canada, and us. [caption id="attachment_35490" align="aligncenter" width="599"]Image of group at Latornell Conservation Symposium From left to right: Doug Tozer, Bridget Stutchbury, Sue Rynard, Megan MacIntosh and Ted Cheskey holding Maple Syrup bottle gifts from the conference that look suspiciously like bottles of contraband.[/caption] Despite the length of our session, and our position as last speakers, we were able to hold the attention of over 60 attendees, who engaged us with many questions. Our presentation described our stewardship work focused on housing management with the Ontario Purple Martin Association and our applied research with Dr. Kevin Fraser of the University of Manitoba. Both project components are supported by many local partners and volunteers. Nature Canada receives financial support from the Habitat Stewardship Program of Environment and Climate Change Canada as well as the Ontario Ministry of Nature Resources Species at Risk Stewardship Fund to do this work. We were able to present some of our findings from recovering data tags that provide insights into the incredible migration route and timing of Martins. This was our moment to share the extraordinary news from this work that members of this species that breed thousands of kilometres apart, gather on the same islands at the same time in the Amazon River basin of Brazil. [caption id="attachment_35489" align="aligncenter" width="601"]Image of Megan MacIntosh presenting Megan MacIntosh presents to a captivated audience the results of her field work.[/caption] Another key finding with significant conservation implications is with regard to post breeding, and pre-migratory roost sites. This summer, Megan and her crew located several of these giant, multi-swallow species roosts, some with over 20,000 individuals, which would qualify them, on their own, as Important Bird Areas. Roosts are poorly understood, and difficult to monitor, and even locate, though they can house tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of birds for several weeks prior to their southward departures. These roosts are largely located in wetlands along the southern Great Lakes and St. Lawrence. The concentration of birds at single roosts renders them vulnerable to different types of human activity, which may be a contributing factor to the declines. Our goal was to put up a flag for roost site protection in the conservation and resource management community. Judging from the response after our presentation, we have made our first good steps. We were thrilled to share the stage with Sue, Joanne, Dr. Stutchbury and Dr. Tozer and speak proudly about Nature Canada’s work, which we hope to continue at some level in 2018.

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Tallurutiup Imanga Marine Conservation Area is Great News for Arctic Bird Conservation
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Tallurutiup Imanga Marine Conservation Area is Great News for Arctic Bird Conservation

[caption id="attachment_21694" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Ted Cheskey Ted Cheskey
Senior Conservation Manager[/caption] Congratulations to Environment Minister Catherine McKenna on establishing the boundaries for Tallurutiup Imanga, Canada’s newest national marine conservation area, located in Lancaster Sound. Tallurutiup Imanga will protect 12 of Canada’s Arctic Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) from industrial threats. IBAs are discrete sites that support specific groups of birds: threatened birds, large groups of birds and birds restricted by range or by habitat. IBAs represent the most important sites for birds on the earth. Over 12,000 IBAs have been identified globally, of which Canada has approximately 590. Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada, Canadian partners to BirdLife International, deliver the IBA program in Canada. IBAs within the new proposed Marine Conservation Area include Berlinguet Inlet, Baillarge Bay, Cape Hay, Lancaster Sound Polynya, Southwest Bylot, Cape Graham Moore, Buchon Gulf, Eastern Devon Island, Campbridge Point, Hobhouse Inlet, Cape Liddon and Prince Leopold Island. See here for details on these sites. These IBAs collectively represent critical areas for many bird species including Little Auk (also called Dovekie), Northern Fulmer, Thick-billed Murre, Black-legged Kittiwake, Black Guillemot, Greater Snow Goose and Ivory Gull. [caption id="attachment_34453" align="aligncenter" width="620"]Image recommended boundary for a National Marine Conservation Area The Qikiqtani Inuit Association's proposed boundary for the marine conservation area. (QIA). Photo from CBC.[/caption] Many of the IBAs in Tallurutiup Imanga are breeding sites for these birds. These seabird colonies in these IBAs are found on towering cliff faces overlooking the ocean. Birds nests are established on ledges and in fractures of the rock surfaces, isolated from mammalian predators. Adults and later young birds are able to get plenty of food in the extremely productive waters adjacent to the colonies and in waters beyond the IBAs. As an example of the significance of this area, the Lancaster Sound polynya harbours literally millions of Little Auks during their non-breeding season.  This tiny alcid is smaller than a robin but lives on the icy Arctic waters, diving for small fish and invertebrates. Much as the boreal forest is recognized as the nursery for songbirds in the Americas due to its prolific insect populations during the boreal summer, the Arctic Ocean is the nursery for many seabird species due to its tremendous productivity. This productivity supports millions of seabirds throughout the year, allowing them to reproduce successfully and survive in areas like the Lancaster Sound polynya during winter months. Tallurutiup Imanga will protect both the colonies and critical feeding and foraging habitat that supports the colonies. This new protected area will account for 20 percent of Canada’s required marine protected areas under the so-called Aichi Targets of the Biodiversity Convention. Tallurutiup Imanga area is an extremely positive development for bird conservation at a global scale.

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Protecting Nature Across Canada Together
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Protecting Nature Across Canada Together

We’ve created a special map just for you—our cherished members—to tell you stories about your support in action. Your gifts are at work every single day protecting nature from coast to coast to coast. You’re defending wildlife! You’re protecting wilderness! You’re inspiring Canadians of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to connect with and explore nature. Thank you! This is an excellent time to reflect on our accomplishments and look ahead with an ambitious vision to do more. Your support is in action, strengthening our environmental laws. Our Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is the main tool for making decisions about proposed pipelines, dams, mines and other industrial projects in Canada. With your support, Nature Canada advocated for specific approaches to strengthen environmental laws, including:

  • Addressing climate change issues in development projects;
  • Providing for full public participation, transparency, accountability and rights to challenge decisions in court;
  • Connecting and coordinating actions by all levels of government, including indigenous governments;
  • Respecting the rights of indigenous peoples; and
  • Promoting science-based decision making.
Thank you for helping strengthen our environmental laws! Now, let’s look ahead together. Canada has committed to protecting 17% of our land and inland waters, and 10% of our oceans, by 2020. But today, only 10% of our land and 1% of our oceans are protected. When you click on the map below, you’ll see that we’ve featured critical nature sites, Important Bird Areas, projects led by young women for nature and a few key species features.
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Key Biodiversity Areas: What they are and why we care
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Key Biodiversity Areas: What they are and why we care

[caption id="attachment_21694" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Ted Cheskey Ted Cheskey
Senior Conservation Manager[/caption] For more than 30 years, organizations around the world have been developing standards to identify ecologically significant sites using quantitative and qualitative methods. In 2004, the IUCN Membership made a request for an international standard to identify important sites. Subsequently, the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSN) and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) formed a Joint Task Force on Biodiversity and Protected Areas to start work on establishing the criteria for Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs). More than 10 years later, these standards are finally coming together. But what are KBAs? And what makes them different from other site identification standards?

KBAs defined

KBAs are “sites that contribute to the global persistence of biodiversity.” This means they are sites that are representative and significant, in one way or another, of the wide array of ecosystems, creatures and species found around the world. The KBA designation covers areas important in terms of animal species, but also extends to areas significant for their plant life or their life-sustaining environment. To be a KBA, sites must meet one of 11 criteria – determined through an evaluation process based on empirical data and carefully laid out methodology. Each criterion has determining thresholds and they are split into five groups as follows: [one_third] Image of a whooping crane [/one_third] [two_third_last]
  1. Threatened biodiversity
    1. Threatened species
    2. Threatened ecosystem type
  2. Geographically restricted biodiversity
    1. Individual geographic restricted species
    2. Co-occurring geographically restricted species
    3. Geographically restricted assemblages
    4. Geographically restricted ecosystem types
  3. Ecological integrity
  4. Biological processes
  5. Irreplaceability[/two_third_last]

How KBAs are different from IBAs and other important sites

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) are one of the many types of important area designations the KBA methodology is built on. IBAs are a conservation initiative coordinated by BirdLife International. To date, there are over 12,000 IBAs worldwide and nearly 600 sites in Canada. The key difference between initiatives like IBAs and KBAs is in the focus. Where designations such as IBAs have had a narrow focus (in the case of IBAs: birds), KBAs are less restrictive. While BirdLife recognizes that healthy bird diversity is often indicative of healthy overall biodiversity (hence the “and Biodiversity” addendum to the name in 2013), the criteria for IBAs – globally threatened species, restricted-range species, biome-restricted species and congregations – are bird-centric and therefore defined in terms of occurring bird populations. What KBAs seek to do, in a sense, is combine these various initiatives into one designation, creating a global database of important sites that encompass a wide range of biodiversity factors. For example, many IBAs can be rolled into KBAs in the next years. That said, it will be a while before designations like IBA are done away with entirely. canada-1362451_1920

Why KBAs are important

You might be wondering what the purpose of such designations is. After all, they serve to identify important sites but they don’t offer them any protection. At its core, the answer is simple: The first step to protecting a site is determining that it is worth protecting. The KBA designation serves as a quantitative and qualitative measure that the site is important. Not to mention, before a site can be designated, empirical data is compiled to back the nomination up. The bottom line is that the KBA designation helps direct research where it is most needed, and it creates a database of sites worth considering for protection along with the scientific data that speaks to this. KBAs are crucial because they help us as a global community identify important sites before we lose them. Nature Canada has a long and rich history of advocating for the protection of habitat and the expansion of the range of protected areas.  KBA will be another tool used in the fight for nature and the conservation of its biodiversity.
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Partnering to protect bird habitat
Common Terns (Sterna hirundo) at Pelee Point, Point Pelee National Park, Onatrio, Canada. Canada's most southern tip, located just meters below the 42 nd. parallel.
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Partnering to protect bird habitat

Bird Studies Canada, Nature Canada and the Gosling Foundation are excited to announce a new partnership to advance conservation of Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA). The new IBA Local Action Fund launched on February 3rd provides local organizations with grants to engage more people in protecting local IBAs and coordinate local actions to help protect, restore or enhance biodiversity and ecosystem integrity within threatened IBAs. IBAs are sites that support specific groups of birds and range in size from very tiny patches of habitat to large tracts of land or water. They are identified using criteria that are internationally Image of a bird watcheragreed upon, standardized, quantitative, and scientifically defensible. This makes IBAs an important tool for identifying conservation priorities, and fostering greater success in the conservation of bird populations.  As Canadian co-partners in BirdLife International, Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada have delivered the IBA program in Canada for 20 years.  Further progress on protecting IBAs depends on action at the local level and thanks to generous funding from the Gosling Foundation, we are thrilled to jointly announce the IBA Local Action Fund. The IBA Local Action Fund projects could look and be quite different across Canada, but will all feature local groups implementing conservation action within priority IBAs.  The range of projects qualifying for funding could include:

  • Science-based advocacy and targeted engagement organizing in support of long-term protection status for IBAs;
  • Local on-the-ground activities to reduce threats, raise awareness, and restore biodiversity;
  • Establishing and supporting Caretaker Groups to monitor their IBAs and advocate for the conservation of IBAs;
  • Raising local voices with municipalities to recognize and conserve IBAs through land use planning, zoning and other regulatory and policy tools; and,
  • Partnering with indigenous communities to build support in, and gain protection for IBAs on their traditional lands.
To find out more about the IBA Local Action Fund and how to apply, please visit here.
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Bird Studies Canada, Nature Canada and the Gosling Foundation announce new Local Action Fund to advance conservation of birds and their natural habitats
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Bird Studies Canada, Nature Canada and the Gosling Foundation announce new Local Action Fund to advance conservation of birds and their natural habitats

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Ottawa, ON (February 3, 2017)―Bird Studies Canada, Nature Canada and the Gosling Foundation are announcing the launch of a new Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) Local Action Fund today that provides local organizations with grants to engage more people in protecting IBAs. The Fund will help to coordinate local actions to help protect, restore or enhance biodiversity and ecosystem integrity within threatened IBAs. “Nature Canada is very excited to be partnering with Bird Studies Canada and the Gosling Foundation to help local communities engage in nature conservation,” says Eleanor Fast, Executive Director of Nature Canada. “This new Fund will make a difference in helping to protect birds and their habitats across the country.” “This partnership is an excellent example of the importance of working together collaboratively to ensure that our birds survive and thrive,” says Steven Price, President of Bird Studies Canada. “Through the generous support from the Gosling Foundation together we will be able to mitigate threats and enhance the protection of Canada’s most important areas for birds.” BACKGROUND As Canadian co-partners in BirdLife International, Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada have delivered the IBA program in Canada for 20 years.  IBAs are sites that support specific groups of birds and range in size from very tiny patches of habitat to large tracts of land or water. They are identified using criteria that are internationally agreed upon, standardized, quantitative, and scientifically defensible. This makes IBAs an important tool for identifying conservation priorities, and fostering greater success in the conservation of bird populations.      To arrange a Nature Canada interview, please contact: Janet Weichel McKenzie, Nature Canada Media Specialist 613-808-4642 jweichelmckenze@gmail.com Nature Canada   To arrange a Bird Studies Canada interview, please contact: Elaine Secord, Communications & Public Affairs Manager 519-586-3531 ext. 111    Cell: 519-586-7251 esecord@birdscanada.org  Bird Studies Canada

Baie de L’Île-Verte & the Cacouna Marsh
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Baie de L’Île-Verte & the Cacouna Marsh

[caption id="attachment_26918" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Blair Scott Blair Scott,
Professional Writing Intern[/caption] This blog was written by Writing Intern Blair Scott. In 1980, Environment Canada declared Quebec’s Baie de L’Île-Verte a National Wildlife Area (NWA). The designated area comprises roughly 322-406 hectares of marsh wetlands (les zones humides des marais) that serve as a critical habitat for many endangered species and unique, life-supporting flora. While Environment Canada leads the management of this NWA, several other organizations have endowed the region with their own terms of ecological significance. In 1987, the Ramsar Convention designated Baie de L’Île-Verte a Wetland of International Significance,” and in 1986, L’Île-Verte Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) was officially recognized; consequently, the region has been listed as an Important Bird Area (IBA). Baie de L’Île-Verte is located on “the south shore of the Upper Estuary of the St. Lawrence River 30km northeast of Rivière-du-Loup” (Environment Canada, 2015). It is home to southern Quebec’s largest sprawl of Spartina marshes, which provides crucial habitat for the American Black Duck. This critical link of dependence catalyzed the need for protective action and special wetland status. The importance of this area is not exclusive to any one species, however; over 130 bird species take refuge in its hybrid terrestrial-aquatic habitat, with approximately 35,000 birds migrating through its territory every spring, and 10,000 passing through in the fall. Over thirteen species listed under Canada’s Species at Risk Act are found here, including Peregrine Falcon, Short-eared Owl and Bobolink. [caption id="attachment_24471" align="alignright" width="253"]Image of a female Bobolink on a branch Photo of a female Bobolink by Kelly Colgan Azar[/caption] The stringent protection and monitoring of Baie de L’Île-Verte has ensured that public access to this location will not compromise conservational priorities. But the hard work of environmental stewardship is seldom complete, and human development seems to encroach upon every ostensibly-pristine paradise. Unlike its NWA-protected neighbour, Marais de Gros-Cacouna (Cacouna Marsh) has not been granted the conservation exemptions afforded by such status. This is unfortunate as this region of the St. Lawrence is invaluable to Canada’s threatened Beluga whale population – providing the only known breeding grounds for this beautiful marine mammal. While hunting during the 19th and 20th centuries was the impetus driving the mass decline of this species, modern-day pollution – in the form of chemical pollution and oil spills, especially – poses a great threat if adequate protections are not put into place. According to IBA statistics, the Cacouna Marsh is one of the three most vital shorebird sites on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. It, too, has been designated as an Important Bird Area, but has yet to gain the conservation justice it deserves. Notable bird species observed here include the Black-bellied Plover, Nelson’s Sparrow, Wilson’s Phalarope and Marsh Wren. Key fish species include the American Eel, American Shad, Atlantic Herring, Atlantic Sturgeon, Capelin, Rainbow Smelt and Stickleback. In light of these facts, Nature Canada is proposing a westward expansion of the current NWA safeguarding Baie de L’Île-Verte, so that it includes the Cacouna Marsh Important Bird Area site. You can learn about more areas that are proposed to be protected here

Wetland Facts:

What do wetlands have to do with water? These amazing ecosystems have adapted to low oxygen levels that would be unfit for a large number of species, and in spite of this, act as intermediary sinks that filter our water. Wetlands are also factory powerhouses pumping out gazillions of insects! These, in turn, feed hundreds of thousands of animals who are all intricately connected in a complex web of trophic levels. In addition, wetlands are often connected to oceans, lakes and rivers, serving as canals for anadromous fish (i.e. fish who migrate between saltwater and freshwater locations: living most of their lives in saline waters, but preferring to spawn in freshwaters). Wetlands come in many shapes and sizes: marshes, bogs, fens, swamps, wet meadows and vernal pools – to name a few! For more information on the ecological services that wetlands provide, or the St. Lawrence wetlands network, click here!
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What You Didn’t Know About Manawagonish Island
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What You Didn’t Know About Manawagonish Island

[caption id="attachment_29148" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Asma Hassan Asma Hassan, Guest Blogger[/caption] This blog was written by guest blogger Asma Hassan.  Manawagonish Island is an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area or 'IBA' located just southeast of New Brunswick. The island has a rich history with regards to the species that inhabit it and the habitat it provides. The Nature Trust of New Brunswick has owned the island since 1992 when the original owners donated the land to the organization. So what is so interesting about the history of Manawagonish Island? It is a significant research site for scientists. Scientists have been tracking seabirds on the island since as far back as 1940. One particular area of their study is the effect of pesticides on the seabird population of the island. The Canadian Wildlife Service, scientists at the New Brunswick Museum and a dedicated bird enthusiast named William Astle have made significant contributions to this topic. In addition to their research on pesticides, they have also studied the movement patterns of seabirds such as Herring Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls and Double-crested Cormorants. This specific study was conducted in 1984 using a banding method to track the movement of the seabirds. The results of the study suggest that both the Great Black-backed Gulls and Double-crested Cormorants move northward into the Northumberland Strait after the breeding season. The research conducted by these researchers is available online for interested academics and fellow bird enthusiasts.Image of a Gadwall The island has undergone significant ecological changes in the past few decades. Once upon a time, Manawagonish Island was covered in beautiful spruce and fir trees, but changes in vegetation led to a significant decline in these trees. In order to create a hospitable environment for the island’s avian inhabitants, the Nature Trust actually constructed poles to substitute as trees for the purpose of nesting in 2007. There have been substantial changes in the island’s sea bird population. In 1948, two pairs of Great Blue Herons were recorded on Manawagonish Island and by 1979 there were at least 44 active nests. The number of Gadwall birds in Manawagonish Island has also been increasing since the early 1900s, though the population is still very small. The really interesting thing here is that the island was not even a known nesting place for Gadwall until the 1930s. Reports prepared by Astle and Donald McAlpine of the New Brunswick Museum also indicate a large increase in Great Black-backed Gulls since 1940. Manawagonish Island has a long history of providing a haven to the birds that have made the island their home. Though people are permitted to visit the island, they should take all necessary precautions so as not to disturb this sanctuary. It is an area that Nature Canada wants to see designated as a National Wildlife Area to provide federal protection to all species and habitats on the island. You can also learn about other proposed protected areas here.

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