It was a unique start to an interesting nature talk featuring members of the Nature Conservancy of Canada at Huff Estates Winery Thursday evening.
The evening began with NCC program director for Central-Ontario East Mark Stabb letting out a call of the wild, a wolf howl, followed by the attendees returning the howl in kind.
“Our nature talk series is called ‘Breaking Ground’,” Stabb stated. “It’s focused on technology and how we use technology to learn about the environment, then use that data to help protect the environment as well.”
The NCC has a team of conservation science professionals who work on the ground to identify, plan and execute the protection of the best of Canada’s natural spaces and manage and restore them for the long term.
This process ensures the NCC’s conservation actions like buying land, removing invasive weeds or mapping the location of rare species are done effectively and efficiently.
Most recently and locally, the NCC was instrumental in purchasing the Rose-Hudgin property at Ostrander Point in South Marysburgh.
The NCC’s process is guided by the following four steps, setting priorities, developing strategies, taking action and measuring success.
“The focus of our work in the county is very similar to work we do in other parts of the world,” expressed Stabb. “But for me this is a very exciting event because we and our families have been coming here for decades.”
The problems the NCC are trying to solve can often look very different depending on the scale.
Just as it’s impossible to see the whole forest when standing among the trees, it’s also difficult to understand the importance of species and ecosystems on an individual property without understanding their place in the larger landscape and beyond.
“About a year ago I became responsible for this part of the country,” said Stabb. “We’ve done some really neat things with fantastic partners and great supporters and this is a very exciting event because we and our families have been coming here for decades.”
The NCC’s work becomes most visible at the property or project level. This is where they secure land through either purchase, easement or donation and develop their approach to manage or restoring it.
The slate of Thursday’s speakers started with Pamela Stagg, an avid birder and botanical painter as well as the host of The County Naturally at 99.3 County FM, with her talk on an intersection of technology and citizen science.
“California’s central valley is a migration path for Northern Pintails and has half a million acres of rice fields idle during the spring shore bird migration,” Stagg said. “What if the Nature Conservancy of California, which has no connection to the NCC, paid farmers to flood their fields and create stop over habitat? Nothing like that had ever been done before but it was worth a try. The Nature Conservancy of California used eBird to collect data.”
Following Stagg’s presentation, Dan Kraus, senior conservation biologist with the NCC spoke on space/areas the organization protects currently and how the group plans priorities over large areas.
“What we know now that we didn’t know in the 60’s is we have over 60 per cent of the fresh water lakes, more lakes then any other country in the world combined,” Kraus declared. “We have a coast line that’s longer then the Uniter States and Russia put together and we have 25 per cent of all of the worlds wetlands in our country.”
Ending the talk series Dr. Amanda Tracy, Coordinator conservation biology for Central Ontario-East with the NCC who spoke on some of the conservation planning work her organization have started doing in Prince Edward County.
“Dan just talked a little bit about how we prioritize conservation and we do that by creating natural areas and PEC falls within the eastern Lake Ontario coast natural area,” Tracy expressed. “When you look at the eastern Lake Ontario natural area from a priority perspective, the whole thing lights up red, everything on the map is so important for us to protect.”
Some conservation projects the NCC have have currently in Prince Edward County include The Miller Family Nature Reserve which is a Hastings Prince Edward Land Trust conservation project with almost 500 acres of North Lake Ontario shoreline and adjoined areas protected.
A future conservation initiative entitled The Brodeur project which is being currently fundraised for and the last and newest addition to the projects is the aforementioned Hudgins-Rose property which is currently being examined and undergoing conservation work on the property.
For more information on the NCC please visit http://www.natureconservancy.ca/en/