Nova Scotia Eastern Habitat Joint Venture (NS-EHJV) Wetland Stewardship Program 2013-2014

Final Project Report: Nova Scotia Eastern Habitat Joint Venture (NS-EHJV) Wetland Stewardship Program, 2013-14

Goals and Objectives

The priority of the NS-EHJV Wetland Stewardship Program is to promote and deliver Agricultural
Biodiversity Conservation Plans (ABC Plans) to (1) facilitate partnerships with agricultural producers
and practitioners; and (2) improve the conservation, restoration and enhancement of wetland habitat
in the agricultural landscape. In addition the NS-EHJV Wetland Stewardship Program will promote
wetland and waterfowl conservation to a variety of audiences including landowners, youth,
conservation groups, hunting organizations, and municipal and other government agencies.

ABC Plans identify the habitats and activities on a farm that support biodiversity and identify potential
opportunities to expand the biodiversity component within the farm operation. Attention is focused on
three broad habitat categories: riparian, wetlands and uplands; these can be farther sub-divided
depending on the landscape. An example of an ABC Plan is attached (Appendix 1).

In addition to delivering ABC Plans directly to producers, we will investigate the feasibility of
developing an ABC Plan Handbook. Its purpose would be a reference for farmers on Beneficial
Management Practices (BMP’s) to enhance biodiversity and compatibility within their farm operation.

Wetland and waterfowl conservation activities will include a combination of presentations, guided
walks/tours, education projects and support for agencies and community groups involved in
conservation projects and awareness.


Specific Habitat Products/Results Supported by WHC’s Contributions

WHC’s contribution is a key component to the delivery of the ABC Plans and increasing conservation
awareness. Twenty ABC Plans will be developed to influence conservation on an estimated 2980
acres of the agricultural landscape. This will include an estimated 225 acres of wetland including the
identification of potential enhancement/restoration projects.  A variety of presentations, walks, tours
and other projects will be undertaken to increase wetland and biodiversity conservation awareness for
approximately 700 participants. These will include landowners, farmers, hunters, community groups,
NGO’s, government agencies and school/university students.   This project provides an opportunity to
facilitate wetland restoration and enhancement activities by uniting the support of other government
and non-government agencies such as NS Environment and NS Department of Agriculture, DUC and
community groups into a common goal to conserve/expand wetlands and biodiversity in the agricultural
landscape.


Benefits to Waterfowl, Wetlands-Associated Species, and/or Other Wildlife

The NS-EHJV partners estimate the agricultural eco-districts support about a quarter of the NS breeding
waterfowl. Maritime Waterfowl surveys (2008 and 2009) conducted by Environment Canada – Canadian
Wildlife Service have shown waterfowl indicated breeding pair (IBP) densities in agricultural landscapes
(2.55 IBP/Km2) are more than two times higher than in forested landscapes (1.09 IBP/Km2) based on
existing land use practices.   The NS-EHJV wetland stewardship and wetland restoration/enhancement
programs identified in the NS-EHJV Implementation Plan are focused in agricultural areas where waterfowl
response (e.g. increased breeding and brood rearing) is predicted to be greatest.

Waterfowl duckling survival is an important limiting factor for the priority waterfowl species identified in
the NS-EHJV Implementation Plan. By improving the abundance and productivity of brood rearing habitat,
wetland stewardship and restoration/enhancement are complementary activities undertaken to directly
increase duckling survival and the number of breeding pairs settling in the agricultural landscape.
Currently, brood rearing and pairing wetlands represent 2.1% of the agricultural landscape in NS. The
NS-EHJV 
partners have established a long-term goal to increase the number of these wetlands to 4% of
the 
agricultural landscape.

The NS-EHJV Wetland Stewardship Program will contribute to achieving the waterfowl population goals for
Nova Scotia by influencing positive land use practices supporting, expanding, and maintaining critical
breeding habitat for NS-EHJV Priority Waterfowl Species (e.g. American black duck, mallard, green-winged
teal and ring-necked duck).  Through awareness, and the ABC Plans, the NS-EHJV Wetland Stewardship
Program will also influence land use practices that support and maintain breeding habitat for American
woodcock and common snipe.


Relevance to Habitat Planning, Decision Making and/or Management

ABC Plans are an individualized plan for each farm identifying the various habitat types and suggesting
BMPs to maintain or improve the biodiversity in each area. These Plans directly influence wetland habitat
conservation by identifying and encouraging the conservation of existing wetland habitats in the agricultural
landscape as well as recommending potential sites for restoration or development of wetlands. In addition,
the project facilitates initial contacts between the landowner and wetlands restoration and conservation
specialists such as DUC that can result in increased wetlands in the agriculture landscape.

The project provides a focal point for habitat management by connecting government agencies (e.g. provincial
Departments of Agriculture and Environment ) as well as community groups, NGO’s, landowners and municipal
governments.

This project promotes wetland, habitat and waterfowl conservation and enhancement across a wide spectrum
of the population including landowners, hunters, youth, community groups and government agencies throughout
the province using presentations, walks/tours and awareness activities.

The stewardship activities outlined in this proposal complement several waterfowl and wetlands conservation
initiatives including the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Eastern Habitat Joint Venture, Black Duck
Joint Venture and Atlantic Coast Joint Ventures, as well as initiatives developing under the North American Bird
Conservation Initiative (NABCI). Project activities also support the goals and actions outlined in The Path We
Share,
A Natural Resources Strategy for Nova Scotia 2011–2020 that “…commit government to an integrated
ecosystem approach that involves everyone in the shared stewardship of Nova Scotia’s natural resources.”

The uptake of biodiversity BMP’s on Nova Scotia farms is increasing due in large part to the NS-EHJV Wetland
Stewardship Program. The NS-EHJV Wetland Stewardship Program continues to provide direct biodiversity
related support and wildlife habitat information to Nova Scotia’s farm planning practitioners, agricultural extension
workers, and farm producers by directly engaging them in the planning and delivery of farm projects.

Although based in the agricultural sector, this project engages a broad spectrum of government agencies, NGO’s,
community groups, landowners, hunters, youth and individuals throughout the province. This includes NS
Departments of Natural Resources, Environment and Agriculture; several municipal governments; Ducks Unlimited
Canada, Acadia and Dalhousie Universities; Bluenose Atlantic Coastal Action Federation (ACAF), Clean Annapolis
River Project (CARP), Scouts Canada; various schools and students, landowners, various hunting groups, the
agricultural community including farmers and practitioners, and interested individuals.


Project Location

The NS-EHJV Wetland Stewardship Program will focus on farmland located in the Valley and Central Lowlands
Ecoregion
(primarily Annapolis, Kings, Hants and Colchester Counties) and Northumberland and Bras d’Or Lowlands
Ecoregion
(primarily Cumberland, Pictou and Antigonish Counties). Nova Scotia.


Project Contact

For more information on this project, please contact Glen ParsonsProvincial Biologist, Natural Resources Planner, 
Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources – Wildlife Division.