Nova Scotia Eastern Habitat Joint Venture (NS-EHJV) Wetland Stewardship Program, 2016-2017

Project by the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources – Wildlife Division.

Location: Nova Scotia, province-wide.

For more information on this project, please contact Glen Parsons, Natural Resources Planner/Provincial Biologist, Kentville, NS. 

Purpose

Historically, land use practices in Nova Scotia’s agricultural landscape has resulted in extensive wetland loss.  However, this landscape continues to provide priority breeding habitat for many NS-EHJV key waterfowl species including American black duck, mallard, green-winged teal and ring-necked duck.  Today, Nova Scotia farmers and agricultural support workers are increasingly becoming aware and interested in wetland habitat conservation and biodiversity related issues.

The priority of the NS-EHJV Wetland Stewardship Program is to facilitate partnerships with farmers, agricultural extension workers, community groups, educational institutions, governments and non-government organizations (NGO’s) to improve the conservation, restoration and enhancement of wetland habitat in the agricultural landscape.  This will be accomplished primarily through the delivery of Agricultural Biodiversity Conservation Plans (ABC Plans) and the continued development and promotion of the Biodiversity Landowners Guide (BioLOG) website – farmbiodiversity.ca

ABC Plans aim to identify the habitats and activities on a farm that support biodiversity, and recommend options to expand biodiversity conservation. The project facilitates engagement between farmers and habitat conservation groups to work together to deliver habitat conservation projects.

The BioLOG website provides Nova Scotian farmers and landowners with information, resources, and guidance to successfully implement conservation best management practices on their own land.

The NS-EHJV Wetland Stewardship Program will continue to promote wetland/waterfowl conservation to a variety of audiences including private landowners and land managers, youth, conservation groups, community groups, hunting organizations, municipal and other government agencies through presentations, field events, education projects, and support for agencies and community groups involved in wetland and waterfowl conservation projects. 

Long-term conservation impacts and benefits

The NS-EHJV Wetland Stewardship Program aims to influence positive change in both attitudes and in on the ground conservation activities through the promotion and delivery of ABP Plans and the BioLOG website. These initiatives encourage change by first recognizing current beneficial activities on the farm and suggesting other activities that can be incorporated into the farm operation. This creates an awareness that the farmer/landowner is already engaged in conservation activities and that farming and biodiversity can co-exist. Once an awareness is created, farmers may then adopt other beneficial activities.

The ABC Plans are also an opportunity to initiate direct on the ground changes. On farm assessments identify potential areas for biodiversity enhancements such as sites for constructed wetlands and can connect habitat conservation organizations with farmers interested in habitat conservation. Increasing and conserving the wetland component of the farm will have long term waterfowl conservation benefits for hunters, the general public and the farmer.

Presentations and field events for both adults and youth increases awareness, and is often the first step towards influencing positive change towards habitat conservation.

New tools, methodologies, landscape practices or protocols

There is an emerging interest among NS-EHJV partners to improve the planning and delivery of EHJV habitat conservation programs in Nova Scotia’s Musquodoboit Watershed located in Central Nova Scotia.  The watershed is ~ 719 km2 and the Musquodoboit River flows ~ 97 km from Upper Musquodoboit to the coast near Musquodoboit Harbour – a RAMSAR Wetland of International Importance; an Important Bird Area (IBA) and home to some of the highest densities of migrating American black ducks and Canada geese in eastern Canada (see 2015 Habitat Matters Report http://nawmp.wetlandnetwork.ca/publications/)

In the past, NS-EHJV partners have independently delivered various habitat conservation projects in this watershed however, EHJV partners feel that much more can be accomplished if they were able to plan and deliver projects more collaboratively.

Stewardship

Many of the stewardship opportunities that will be engaged and promoted include:  the delivery and promotion of the ABC Plans; the BioLOG Website; partnerships, support and  liaise with government agencies and community groups; engagement of youth, hunters, community members and landowners through presentations, projects, outdoor events; and the promotion of wetland conservation through posters and displays.