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.
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.
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.
Michael Kerford, Eco Canada, me, and Brendon Larson, University of Waterloo, in the Dal quad during CCUEN 2016 (photo: Ingrid Leman Stefanovic).
I spent yesterday at the 2016 meeting of the Canadian Colleges and Universities Environmental Network. It was a great opportunity to meet leaders from other environmental programs, near and far. Despite the increasingly crowded space (read: educational market) in which we operate, the collegiality was powerful. Great talks by Dal’s own Tarah Wright and Ingrid Leman Stefanovic, Dean of SFU’s Faculty of Environment, placed our collective undertaking in rich context, and Megan Leslie brought insight on political life to an excellent panel on Science Communication. Drinks in the Steele Ocean Building were generously provisioned, and I took the opportunity to sneak into my old dorm room (#213 Old Eddy) during the dinner in Shirreff Hall: 25 years later and it still smells the same. Thanks to the organizers Peter Mushkat (Dalhousie) and Don Jardine (NSCC) for providing an atmosphere conducive to much productive networking.