Biodiversity Planning and BMP Implementation on Prince Edward Island 2009-10

Biodiversity Planning and BMP Implementation on Price Edward Island Final Project Report 2009/2010 (pdf)

Goals and Objectives

The primary goal of this project is to address the degradation of small wetlands in agricultural lands by working with farmers to incorporate wetland and wildlife habitat values into agricultural practices. This will in turn enhance biodiversity and wildlife habitat in the agricultural landscape. This will be achieved through the following objectives:

  1. Raise awareness and promote the benefits of biodiversity on farms to agricultural landowners through farm visits and promotional material.
  2. Develop 20 agricultural biodiversity plans positively influencing 1200 hectares of agricultural land in Prince Edward Island.
  3. Increase implementation of biodiversity Best Management Practices (BMPs) including Farm Pond Construction and Agricultural Wetland Restoration through agricultural biodiversity planning.
  4. Deliver 10 wetland restoration/creation BMPs on farms and gain long term securement of this habitat through 15-yr Stewardship Agreements.
  5. Communicate the results of the implementation of biodiversity BMPs broadly to key audiences of governments, landowners, Agricultural Policy Framework (APF) delivery agents, and the general public.

It is expected that achieving the goals identified above will contribute to the comprehensive goals for wetland conservation, restoration and management, as outlined in the PEI EHJV Implementation Plan. On site farm visits will be conducted and information will be provided to farmers in the form of a biodiversity farm plan which will include a GIS based aerial photo of their property identifying target areas for new biodiversity BMP implementation, identifying existing accomplishments and a written report outlining future recommendations to enhance wildlife habitat on the farm.

Activities

PEI EHJV partners Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) and PEI Federation of Agriculture will participate in the local Enhancement Environmental Farm Plan (EEFP) planning process emphasizing the importance of wetland BMPs and how adoption of these actions will contribute to wildlife habitat and biodiversity. This will involve presentations to farmers who have completed EEFPs, with a focus on farms within the 5 EEFP watershed planning groups (e.g. Mill River, Souris, Dunk, etc.). Farms within these watersheds will be targeted for biodiversity planning, and 20 biodiversity plans influencing 1,200 hectares of agricultural land in PEI will be completed in 2009. DUC will also use the success of biodiversity plans created in 2008 as a tool to identify potential Wetland Restoration and Farm Pond projects and deliver 12 of these projects in 2009. For each site deemed suitable through an onsite inspection, a 15 year stewardship agreement will be signed with the landowner prior to the construction of the Farm Pond or Wetland Restoration at that location. Each project completed will be evaluated in subsequent years and the project incorporated into the planning and communication process, as is deemed suitable, through on site tours and other communication products, including DUC’s web-site and Conservator articles.

Specific Habitat Products/Results to be Supported by WHC’s Contributions

12 BMP Agricultural Wetland Restoration or Farm Pond Construction sites will be identified and surveyed in May 2008, and constructed prior to December 2008 (~1.5 acres/ wetland). A fifteen year stewardship agreement will be signed with each farm landowner. Twenty Agricultural Biodiversity Conservation Plans, influencing 1200 hectares of agricultural land in PEI will be completed in 2009. Funding from Wildlife Habitat Canada will be used to directly support the pond construction or wetland restoration projects and to deliver 20 Agricultural Biodiversity Plans in PEI. Tours and communication products will be developed by DUC in conjunction with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

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

As outlined in the PEI EHJV Implementation Plan conservation actions that enhance habitat function of wetlands and wetland complexes are critical to increasing waterfowl populations to goal levels. Actions are focused in high priority areas and address the following key limiting factors: 1) duckling survival, 2) settling rates. As stated in the Implementation Plan, enhancement of small wetlands increases the capacity of the landscape to support breeding pairs. This proposal targets securement and enhancement of critical habitats that directly benefit priority EHJV species including: black duck, mallard, ring-necked duck, and green-winged teal. Actions will also benefit provincially significant waterfowl species including blue-winged teal, American wigeon, as well as a multitude of shorebirds and other wetland associated species, including osprey, northern harrier, sora, red-winged blackbird, and tree swallow.

The restoration of 12 agricultural wetlands or the creation of farm ponds, that average 1.5 acres each, are expected to provide suitable breeding habitat for an additional 18 broods of waterfowl over existing levels of brood production. Constructed farm ponds have an additional positive influence on neighboring wetlands by containing and filtering excessive nutrients and sediment on site.

Relevance to Habitat Planning, Decision Making and/or Management

Initially, this project is expected to have a direct impact on the participating landowners and on the wetlands and farmland under their direct management. By emphasizing that wetlands act as natural water filters and purifiers, functions which hold particular significance in agriculturally dominated landscapes and have additional value as wildlife habitat, it is expected that farmers will be more likely to incorporate biodiversity components of the EEFP. Understanding how the conservation actions promoted will enhance water regimes in degraded wetlands and improve surface and groundwater recharge functions are expected to increase the uptake of biodiversity enhancing wetland BMPs. Furthermore, emphasizing that maintaining wetland habitat also improves local and regional economics by providing fishing, trapping, hunting, birding, and other recreational opportunities is also expected to increase the likelihood to undertake these types of biodiversity projects.

This activity is expected to influence the long term planning and management of these lands by incorporating these biodiversity components. Also, the additional information delivered to these landowners through agricultural biodiversity plans should increase uptake of other biodiversity BMP’s. On the longer term it is expected that this increased awareness fostered through the extension and communications component of the project will influence other landowners, watershed and community groups, and eventually public expectation and policy.

Strong efforts to promote the functions and values of wetlands to the human population are required to curb further habitat loss and degradation. The increased presence of, and familiarity with conservation actions combined with the conveyance of the values and functions of wetlands will help instill a strong awareness of the need for wetland conservation throughout society.

Project Location

The project will be located entirely on private agricultural land, which comprises 222,186 hectares or 39% of the Province’s total of 568,360 hectares. A complete description of the wetland habitat of PEI is included in the EHJV Implementation Plan.

Project Contact

For more information on this project, please contact Wade Lewis, Conservation Program Specialist, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.