Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Category: Education (page 1 of 3)

30 years of WHSRN, 3 for Space to Roost

MES student Jaya Fahey talks about shorebirds at the WHSRN 30 year celebration today at Evangeline Beach (photo: Richard Stern)

MES student Jaya Fahey talks about shorebirds at the WHSRN 30 year celebration today at Evangeline Beach (photo: Richard Stern)

Meanwhile, the signs have gone up at Avonport Beach for year three of Space to Roost.

Meanwhile, the signs have gone up at Avonport Beach for year three of Space to Roost.

Colleagues at Bird Studies Canada and Nature Conservancy Canada joined with other conservation groups today at Evangeline Beach at Grand Pre, Nova Scotia, to celebrate 30 years that the Minas Basin has been recognized by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) as a globally significant bird habitat. MES student and BSC intern Jaya Fahey was interviewed for local media. The timing is significant: it is the leading edge of the time that the area hosts millions of shorebirds migrating south from the Arctic. These birds need to eat and gain weight and above all rest, because the next step is a big one: three days swim over the ocean non-stop to South America … and they can’t swim! The signs have already gone up at Avonport (left) to recruit beach users to help us set aside high-tide resting beaches while the birds are here. This is year three of Space to Roost, the second using resting beaches. We have some indication already that these resting beaches reduce human disturbance; this year should help us fully understand their effectiveness.

Coastal adaptation at the Discovery Centre

The wonderful irony of using hard, pointy Lego to illustrate living shorelines as an adaptation strategy.

The wonderful irony of using hard, pointy Lego to illustrate living shorelines as an adaptation strategy.

Salt marsh or dykes?

Salt marsh or dykes?

Great to see the new Oceans display at the Discovery Centre, including a new touch tank (sorry, guys) popular with the kids. Even cooler was the substantive content on coastal adaptation options, whimsically implemented with Lego (above). Also really neat to see this slider-based exploration of salt marsh restoration versus strengthening dyke-based protection as coastal options (right). This felt very topical as our team plans for Coastal Zone Canada next week in St. Johns, where we are developing a workshop on ‘making space for movement’ by nature-based coastal adaptation options.

New extension video on farm riparian management

Excited to highlight here our new riparian management extension video, another collaboration with the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. Simon Greenland-Smith, MES alum and SARPAL project manager, developed this stylish video with the folks at local production company Wonderlust, as part of our series on ‘small changes’ towards biodiversity-friendly farming. During our previous evaluation of the Agricultural Biodiversity Conservation (ABC) program, modified harvest and riparian management were the two practices that were significantly increased by education. We hope through videos like this to get the word out about these ‘small changes’ to more farmers than those who opt into an ABC plan, or visit our BioLOG extension website.

New wood turtle stewardship program announced at ASFWB

A wood turtle found by Grade 9 students from Middleton, out with Katie McLean from CARP and Simon Greenland-Smith, in September 2016.

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.

Low-tech cool tools for schools

Sample artwork from one NS south shore grade 4 student, before and after a 7-lesson climate change  module.

Sample artwork from one NS south shore grade 4 student, before and after a 7-lesson climate change module.

I was pleased to be invited last week to present remotely to a workshop in Vancouver run by Dr. Stephen Sheppard’s lab, Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP). He and his team have – among other things – developed the Future Delta 2.0 computer game for use exploring climate change challenges and solutions for the British Columbia lower mainland. Thanks to SSHRC connection grant funding they brought researchers, youth, government and teachers together to workshop the tool and its application, and discuss broader issues of climate change education. Branded a ‘Cool Tools‘ event, I contributed my low-tech work with MREM Jillian Baker and Jason Loxton using art in schools to teach and evaluate climate change modules. I was reminded of the lack of success we had getting our modules through the Department of Education and into teacher’s hands, perhaps because at the time there were only two learning outcomes in the entire NS curriculum that directly related to climate change. I hope things have changed now, five years later.

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