western Region B. C . / b o r e a l
While we know a thing or two about coastal bird populations, still questions exist and it’s unclear what impact increased tanker traffic and potential incidents will have.
The boats and the birds Potential increased tanker traffic along the B.C. coast has been in the news lately. What will it mean for birds wintering and migrating along our shoreline? Coastal industries have inherent risks because of the sensitive marine environment. In this case, the risks are not just from the shipping process itself, but also from the estuary habitats that may be lost when port and transmission facilities are built. While we know a thing or two about coastal bird populations, still questions exist and it’s unclear what impact increased tanker traffic and potential incidents will have. Questions include: Are the potentially affected areas critical to sensitive bird populations? Does boat traffic disturb birds? And what are birds feeding on in highly-used estuaries? Answers are needed before the risks of tanker traffic can be properly assessed. Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) is helping regulatory authorities better understand and manage risks to estuaries. DUC and its partners have mapped most of the significant estuaries along the B.C. coast, and our partner, Canadian Wildlife Service, flies the coast semi annually to survey waterfowl and waterbird “hot spots”. This information enables us to construct an ‘estuary model’ to predict which estuaries are most important to consider when evaluating tanker traffic. DUC is watching with interest and looking to increase its knowledge base to provide more informed responses when asked about coastal tanker traffic and waterfowl.
Conservator | spring 2013
Wetlands in the boreal forest are highly connected systems that transport water and associated nutrients long distances. Resource developments, like roads, blocking the natural flow of water in wetlands are concerning. As part of a recently signed Memorandum of Understanding, FPInnovations (FPI) and Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) are working together to find new ways to minimize the impact of resource development on waterfowl habitat in the boreal forest. With FPI’ engineering excellence in resource roads and DUC’s knowledge of wetlands and waterfowl, this collaboration will contribute significantly to developing and promoting industrial practices that maintain the health of boreal wetlands, while supporting sustainable resource-based industries. FPI is a not-for-profit organization specializing in the creation of scientific solutions through research and innovation for every area of the forest sector’s values chain, from forest operations to consumer and industrial products. The partnership builds on an existing project DUC has with forest industry partners and FPI, funded by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. The objective is developing recommended management practices for wetland road crossings to maintain natural water flow. “Wetlands in the western boreal forest are significant features across this vast region, which is undergoing considerable industrial activity,” said Chris Smith, head of forest industry and government relations for DUC. “This partnership capitalizes on both organizations’ expertise to protect boreal wetlands, while still allowing for sustainable development.” Although the boreal forest remains largely intact, its abundant natural resources and wildlife are at increased risk of damage due to landscape changes associated with resource development and climate change. We all contribute to these effects and are ultimately responsible for the care of our natural areas. By working together, we can reduce our environmental footprint and this partnership aims to do just that.
left: ©DUC/Michel Blachas and Carole Piché
Partnering to enhance conservation in the working forest
Long-time conservationist wins wetland conservation award The community of Oceanside is home to the Cook family, that conserve wetlands on their land. In November, Warren Cook was recognized by the local Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) chapter with the Community Wetland Conservation Award for the conservation work he’s done over the last 25 years. The Cook family has owned property on the east coast of Vancouver Island near Bowser for over a century. This land served as a homestead and was worked by three generations of Cooks, including Warren. “Dad didn’t have the money to do the improvements to habitat during his life, but he saw the need and encouraged me to get it done,” says Cook. “When I had the time after retirement, I put my mind and energy into this
project. I hope I have encouraged my children to continue this restoration. I’m sure they will.” The 82-acre property is a work in progress. After many years in a mill job, Cook dedicated his retirement years to the restoration of creeks, riparian habitat, ponds and fish channels, and made the estuary even more welcoming to waterfowl, animals and people. He also replanted trees and worked with the Ministry and Transport to restore the fish rearing capacity of the creeks. The Nature Trust of B.C. partnered with the family to protect the property from future development. Cut-throat trout and several species of spawning salmon are again using the deepened and re-graveled channels. Wildlife is thriving including mammals and ducks, like
Above: Wayne Pritchard (left), DUC B.C. provincial volunteer council chair, presents Warren Cook with his Community Conservation Award. goldeneye, bufflehead and scoter that stop by during migration. The DUC Community Wetland Conservation Award is not Cook’s first award. He received the Private Forest Stewardship Award in 2004 and, more recently, the Wildlife Habitat Canada Award for his work.
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