|The Nature Nation E-Newsletter
The Fraser River Estuary IBA near Vancouver is the jewel in the crown of Canada’s Important Bird Area (IBA) network.
Each spring, millions of migrant waterfowl and shorebirds, from Brant to Black-bellied Plovers, descend upon the Fraser River Delta’s mudflats, marshes and flooded farm fields. Summer brings songbirds, woodpeckers, and raptors to the upland forests and shrubby hedgerows. Fall sees tens of thousands of migrating American Wigeons and Northern Pintails. Even the winter remains busy, with Gray-bellied Brant among the waterfowl, and large numbers of Glaucous-winged Gulls. (Take a tour of some of Canada’s top IBAs.)
Thanks to a new initiative spearheaded by the conservation group BC Nature with support from Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada, birds in the Fraser River Estuary and the 83 other designated IBA sites in British Columbia will enjoy greater protection than ever before.
The BC IBA Program’s Caretaker Network will be the first of its kind in Canada. The idea is simple. Enhance protection for birds by establishing a network of knowledgeable volunteers who will be “eyes and ears” on the ground at each of the province’s IBAs, watching for conservation threats and changes in bird populations.
Volunteer caretakers will visit Important Bird Areas at least once a year to record what they observe about the presence or absence of birds, or changes in land use within the IBA. They’ll also raise the profile of IBAs in their own communities, ensuring that regional planners, municipalities, other decision makers and the public at large know about the ecological importance of these sites.
Their hands-on volunteer work will put them on the frontlines of bird habitat protection.
Recruiting IBA Caretakers for each of the province’s 84 sites is easier said than done. Some of BC’s IBAs are in remote areas and on offshore islands. Still, as of July, 2007, BC Nature had matched approximately half of all the sites with a Caretaker. Join BC Nature’s IBA Caretaker Network.
The BC IBA Caretaker Network Project received financial assistance this year from Nature Canada’s Communities in Action program, which helps implement critical on-the-ground conservation actions at Canada’s Important Bird Areas. With donor support, this program has helped thousands of volunteers survey bird populations, build nest boxes, erect signs, remove invasive species, plant native grasses, and promote awareness of the value of wildlife.
Bird Studies Canada is providing the BC Caretaker Network Project with assistance in project planning and management, preparation of communications materials and data management.
Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada are Canadian co-partners in BirdLife International, a global alliance of conservation organizations working for the world's birds and people. BirdLife partners in over 100 countries identify, conserve and monitor a worldwide network of sites that provide essential habitat for birds.