Nova Scotia Eastern Habitat Joint Venture (NS-EHJV) Wetland Stewardship Program, 2015-16

Final Report: Nova Scotia Eastern Habitat Joint Venture (NS-EHJV) Wetland Stewardship Program, 2015-16

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

Goals and Objectives

The current priority of the NS-EHJV Wetland Stewardship Program is to facilitate partnerships with agricultural producers and practitioners, 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 through the delivery and promotion of Agricultural Biodiversity Conservation Plans (ABC Plans).

An Interactive Biodiversity Landowners Guide (BioLOG) Website is currently under development through a partnership with Dalhousie University (DAL), Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture (NSFA), NS Departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture (DNR/NSA), DUC and Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada (AAFC). The website is designed to complement the ABC Plan project and promote the maintenance and enhancement of biodiversity and wetland conservation to a wider agricultural audience.

The goal of this project is:

  • To address provincial wetland conservation and management needs through the development of conservation and stewardship objectives and the application of stewardship techniques

Specific Habitat Products/Results Supported by WHC’s Contributions

WHC’s contribution is critical to the delivery of the ABC Plans and increasing wetland conservation awareness under the NS-EHJV Wetland Stewardship Program. Fifteen ABC Plans will be developed to influence conservation on ~2225 acres (900 ha) of the agricultural landscape. This will include ~150 acres (60 ha) of wetland and the identification of potential wetland enhancement/restoration projects. Several potential partnerships are under discussion that will involve the use of ABC Plans to initiate on-the-ground changes on agricultural lands in watersheds of concern. Activities will include restoration/enhancement of wetlands and riparian areas along waterways.

The BioLOG Website hosted by the NSFA should be operational by late 2014. In 2015-2016, the partnership including DAL, NSFA, DUC, NSA, DNR and AAFC will continue to develop the site and to add and refine information and links.

A variety of presentations, outdoor events and other activities will be undertaken to increase wetland and biodiversity conservation awareness for approximately 900 participants. These will include landowners, land managers, farmers, hunters, community groups, NGO’s, government agencies and school/university students. The various activities will increase awareness of wetland/waterfowl conservation that will help facilitate wetland restoration and enhancement throughout the province, especially in the agricultural landscape.

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

The ABC Plan Project is highlighted in the 2015.2 DUC Grantee NAWCA Proposal as a key stewardship program on farms that leads to actions by farmers to conserve wetlands, which results in habitat being maintained or enhanced for waterfowl and other wetland-dependent birds.

Through ABC Plan delivery and targeted wetland conservation awareness, the NS-EHJV Wetland Stewardship Program will contribute to achieving the EHJV habitat and waterfowl population goals for NS by influencing positive land use practices that support and maintain breeding habitat for NS-EHJV key waterfowl species including American black duck, mallard, green-winged teal and ring-necked duck.

Relevance to Habitat Planning, Decision Making and/or Management

ABC Plans are custom plans prepared for each farm that identify the various habitat types and suggested Beneficial Management Practices (BMP’s) 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 the restoration or development of wetlands. In addition, the project facilitates initial contacts between farmers and wetlands restoration and conservation specialists that can result in increased wetlands in the agriculture landscape.

The BioLOG Website will provide farmers with guidance to help determine how their operation is supporting wetland and biodiversity conservation, and how they can enhance wetlands and biodiversity on their farms. The Website will also provide an opportunity to encourage farmer and hunter interactions to address problem/nuisance wildlife situations. Links will be provided to connect Nova Scotia farmers with agricultural biodiversity conservation elsewhere.

The ABC Plan project and NS-EHJV Wetland Stewardship Program provides a focal point for habitat management by connecting government agencies as well as community groups, NGO’s, landowners and municipal governments. In addition, the overall program promotes and encourages wetland, habitat and waterfowl conservation and enhancement across a wide spectrum of the population including landowners, land users, hunters, youth, community groups and government agencies throughout the province using presentations, outdoor events and awareness activities.

The stewardship activities outlined in this proposal complement several waterfowl and wetlands conservation initiatives including the EHJV, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Black Duck Joint Venture and Atlantic Coast Joint Venture, as well as initiatives developing under the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI). The Eastern Habitat Joint Venture Implementation Plan, 2007 – 2012 recognizes the ABC Plans as an example of provincial stewardship program. Project activities also support the goals and actions outlined in The Path We Share, A Natural Resources Strategy for Nova Scotia 2011–2020 that “…commits government to an integrated ecosystem approach that involves everyone in the shared stewardship of Nova Scotia’s natural resources.”

The NS-EHJV Wetland Stewardship Program continues to provide direct biodiversity related support and wildlife habitat information to Nova Scotia’s farm planners, practitioners, agricultural extension workers, community groups and farm producers by directly engaging them in the planning and delivery of farm projects.

Although focused in the agricultural landscape, this project engages a broad spectrum of government agencies, NGO’s, community groups, landowners, hunters, youth and individuals throughout the province. This includes DNR, NSE, NSA, DUC, DAL, BCAF, CARP, Acadia University, 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).

The agricultural landscape is recognized as a Key Program Area for the NS-EHJV. Agricultural activity in NS primarily occurs on privately owned family farms.

Valley and Central Lowlands Ecoregion – Over 84,000 hectares of agricultural lands in the region represents approximately 36% of all agricultural lands in Nova Scotia. Approximately one fifth of the land cover in the Ecoregion is comprised of agricultural lands, making it the largest agricultural region in the province.

Northumberland and Bras d’Or Lowlands Ecoregion – Over 69,000 hectares of agricultural lands in the region represents approximately 29% of all agricultural lands in Nova Scotia. Less than one tenth (~ 9%) of the land cover in the Ecoregion is made up of agricultural lands.

Project Contact

For more information on this project, please contact Glen Parsons, Natural Resources Planner/Provincial Biologist, Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources – Wildlife Division, Kentville, NS.