Wetland on Wheels 2016-2017: Strengthening local and provincial capacity to conserve wetlands.

Project by the British Columbia Wildlife Federation.

Location: Golden, Fernie, Nakusp, Castlegar, Campbell River, Duncan, Parksville, Penticton, Meadow Creek, Langley, Lower Mainland, B.C.

For more information on this project, please contact Neil W. Fletcher, Wetlands Education Program Coordinator, St. Surrey, BC. 

Purpose

BCWF’s Wetlands Education Program offers a range of workshops and outreach events that aim to enhance wetland stewardship across BC. Initiatives range from youth outreach/awareness events to enhancing the skillsets of practitioners through focused workshops and strategic meetings; and focuses on local and provincial initiatives. 

Outreach events (e.g., World Wetlands Day) focus on engaging youth in direct experiences with wetlands.  Workshops empower individuals who have the ability to conserve/enhance wetlands (e.g. landowners, planners, conservation groups). Workshops in 2016-2017 include: the Wetlands Institute (Lower Mainland Region), Wetlandkeepers (Golden and Parksville), Restoration Planning Workshop (Nakusp), Mapping and Assessment Workshop (Castlegar), Map our Marshes (Campbell River, Duncan, Penticton, Langley), Working Group Workshop (Fernie).

The 2016 initiatives will provide opportunities to act upon identified opportunities that resulted from our 2015 activities.

The Wetlands Institute provides training on wetland restoration, construction, and conservation.  Wetlandkeepers workshops educate participants on vegetation inventories, wildlife monitoring, and assessing wetland health.  The Restoration Planning workshop help participants assess and identify wetlands in need of restoration. The Mapping and Assessment Workshop educates on how to use free spatial analysis tools to assess and prioritize wetlands for conservation and restoration during pre & post field events. Map our Marshes workshops focus on delineating wetland boundaries with GPS units in the field and incorporating data onto the BC Community Mapping Network.

Working Group Sessions bring stakeholders together to focus on regional prioritization of wetland conservation activities. We are also proposing to further improve the coordination of the Wetlands Stewardship Partnership of BC meetings and activities.

Contribution to Goal #3 of the 2012 NAWMP Revision: “Growing numbers of waterfowl hunters, other conservationists, and citizens who enjoy and actively support waterfowl and wetlands conservation.

The BCWF uses a number of hands-on workshops to teach landowners, citizens, conservationists, first nations, government workers, biologists, etc. how to conserve wetlands through various techniques such as mapping, vegetation monitoring, classification, invasive species control, restoration, legal frameworks etc. Workshops and outreach events also increase awareness of the values and importance of wetlands, directly increasing those who actively support their conservation.  The BCWF’s position of an organization representing hunters and anglers across the province also places us in the unique position to collaborate with a large number of waterfowl hunters and conservationists.

Long-term conservation impacts and benefits

  • Restoration of wetlands in Meadow Creek and at the Silverdale Creek in Mission.
  • Creation of a wetland at Dewdney Elementary School to enhance learning opportunities to a newly established outdoor classroom.
  • Teaching workshop participants the skills needed to map and survey local BC wetlands and how to upload the data to CMN’s BC Wetlands Atlas.

New tools, methodologies, technology, landscape practices or protocols

  • Development and introduction of a new workshop: Pre and Post Field Mapping and Assessment workshop using Q-GIS software (i.e., a powerful free open-source mapping software).  This initiative will support regional mapping initiatives currently underway and enable stewardship groups and other interest groups to gather and assess wetland data and communicate wetland management issues with municipal, regional and provincial government.  The training will support Provincial standards around reporting on Sensitive Ecosystems.

Stewardship

Participants in our Wetlands Institute, Wetlandkeepers, and Map our Marshes workshops are encouraged to engage in additional wetland conservation projects in their own communities.  Where possible, we provide them with additional advice and any resources to help them successfully complete their project. A majority of our Wetlandkeeper and Map our Marshes workshops partner with a local conservation organization seeking support for stewardship works – and workshops are tailored to meet their needs. Wetlands Institute participants are often successful in accomplishing projects after attending our workshops. 

The Working Group Session will help to assemble community leaders and decision makers and is instrumental in ensuring that different groups are working towards a common goal with minimal overlap and improved strategic direction. 

The Fernie Working Group Workshop will assemble stakeholders towards identifying needs and opportunities for mapping wetlands and riparian areas in the Elk Valley (a priority region identified by the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program) that aims to lead to better protection and conservation measures.

Our efforts in the Okanagan region are supporting the valley-wide Okanagan Wetland Strategy as our BC wide mapping initiatives and Map our Marshes workshop will support the improvement of their regional wetland database. 

In 2016, we will also provide ongoing support to the Slocan Wetlands Assessment and Monitoring Project (SWAMP), which was established among the Slocan River Streamkeepers and the Slocan Lake Stewardship Society due to our inspirational 2013 workshops in the area. SWAMP is initiating Phase 3 of their project which includes refinement of prioritization tools, assessment of additional wetland complexes, and further public outreach.