Newfoundland and Labrador Wetlands Conservation and Stewardship, 2016-2017

Project by the Newfoundland Wildlife Division, Department of Environment and Conservation

Location: Newfoundland, province-wide.

For more information on this project, please contact Jonathan Sharpe, NL EHJV Program Manager, Corner Brook, NL. 

Purpose

There continues to be loss and degradation of habitat, specifically wetlands and coastal areas throughout Canada as a result of industrial, agricultural and residential development. In Newfoundland and Labrador, a need has been identified to actively engage municipal governments, corporations and landowners in the stewardship of wetlands and coastal habitat located within their respective jurisdictions. Historically, both coastal and inland settlement has often occurred adjacent to productive habitat, and municipalities have control over large areas of watershed through the municipal planning process.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Division, as its primary contribution to the implementation of the NAWMP in the province seeks to partner with governments, landowners, resource users and industry to conserve wetlands, wetland associated uplands and coastal habitats in order to sustain their associated waterfowl, seabird and seaduck populations. The Division focuses largely upon signing Stewardship Agreements with municipalities, corporations and individual landowners who own or manage significant wildlife habitat. A Stewardship Agreement represents a formal public commitment by a community, corporation, individual and the province, to act together over the long-term to conserve habitat for wildlife. Since 1993, thirty-five municipalities in the province have become involved through the signing of Municipal Habitat Stewardship Agreements securing over 38,000 acres of wildlife habitat. Corporate Stewardship Agreements have also been signed by the Iron Ore Company of Canada and Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Limited. Private landowners in several communities have also been involved with the signing of Landowner “Good Steward” Agreements, demonstrating individual commitment to conserving wildlife habitat.

The 2016-2017 project will seek to sign new stewardship agreement(s) with NL municipalities and landowners which secure ~500 acres of wetlands, wetland associated uplands, and coastal habitat. As a second major component of this project we will work with existing agreement signatories to provide assistance, educate local people and work with agreement signatories to implement habitat enhancement activities outlined in individual Habitat Conservation Plans providing opportunity for agreement signee engagement.

Long-term conservation impacts and benefits

Involvement by municipal governments, corporations and landowners in habitat conservation under this project not only ensures wildlife habitat is protected in the long-term with the support of government but long-term involvement in the program has been demonstrated to have positive impacts influencing development related planning and decision making by municipal councils/ staff, developers and residents. This lends support over the long-term ensuring that not only significant wetlands and associated uplands are protected from adverse development but that environmentally minded thinking is enhanced. 

New tools, methodologies, landscape practices or protocols

The municipal stewardship program has been externally audited in the past and deemed as innovative and successful which has been echoed by other publications across Canada.

Stewardship

A significant, but sometimes un-noticed, impact of municipal stewardship is that it impacts development related decision making within municipal planning boundaries and sometimes beyond. Examples of this conservation ethic include opportunity for formal input to municipal planning, individual development permit applications and individual resident land development.