A wood turtle found by Grade 9 students from Middleton, out with Katie McLean from CARP and Simon Greenland-Smith, in September 2016 (photo: Simon Greenland-Smith).
MES alumnus and lab project manager Simon Greenland-Smith was in Summerside, PEI, last week for the AGM of the Atlantic Society of Fish and Wildlife Biologists (ASFWB), announcing our exciting new project on wood turtle habitat on agricultural lands. Simon is working for the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, with funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Species At Risk Protection of Agricultural Lands (SARPAL) envelope. That work is a natural extension of our work on biodiversity-friendly farming, and is aiming to develop and evaluate a pilot program to eliminate risk to wood turtles in farmland areas also defined as critical habitat for them. SARPAL is designed to avoid situations like the federal government got into out west with the sage grouse. We are drawing on a rich base of ecological expertise about wood turtles in the province within government (e.g. NS Department of Natural Resources, Canadian Wildlife Service) and NGOs like the Clean Annapolis River Project (CARP) and the Mersey-Tobeatic Research Institute (MTRI). We have already done some advocacy work around farm practices to support wood turtles, such as our animated extension video on modified harvest practices in which a wood turtle sports a pompadour haircut (this only makes sense if you watch it). This is a great opportunity to engage directly with farmers in ways that share the costs of, and ease other transitional barriers to, stewardship actions.
[UPDATE Dec 8, 2016: The full documentary is now private – hope you saw it when it was free]
That’s what I said right before sitting rapt for an hour and a half watching the new climate change documentary, Before the Flood: “can we just watch the beginning of this?”. I thought I knew what it was going to be (i.e. a celebrity vanity project) and what it would be about (i.e. we’re screwed). Certainly I knew all the facts presented, individually, one way or another. But this documentary puts them together in a way that hits hard, and meaningfully. It spurred an immediate conversation of what we will do differently at home, and how our respective work aims to contribute. The documentary has only been viewed 3.5 million times so far, but at least that’s a million more than when I watched it last night. I hope it gets picked up by the American voters in advance of this critical election. I dare you to try and just watch the beginning…