Enjoyed reading a newletter profile on MREM alum Seonaid MacDonell (currently at Farm Safety Nova Scotia) about her successful year starting up a Biodiversity project with 4H Nova Scotia. She put to work the biodiversity content developed for club leaders by Simon Greenland-Smith and I funded by ECCC and their SARPAL program and supported also by Glen Parsons at DLF. It is very satisfying to see these kids enjoying learning about biodiversity with such an energetic young leader. I’m grateful to Seonaid, and look forward to hearing about year two! If there is enough support across the clubs we hold out hope this can become a regular offering.
When I first started to do farm biodiversity research in Nova Scotia, after doing the same in Australia, I was surprised by how small and sometimes fragmented the farms were (see above). I wondered if that was a boon or a bust for farm biodiversity. Did having a contiguous farm make the farmer see it more as an ecosystem, and thus make them more likely to foster biodiversity, or did having a fragmented farm make the farmer set aside far-flung places for such purposes? Turns out fragmentation has no real impact on farm habitat provision; farm area does. Read about it at The Canadian Geographer.
Great to be here in Alberta and finally getting boots on the ground at some Canadian farms using Holistic Management or its variants. Tuesday we met farmers Steve and Amber Kenyon at Greener Pastures near Busby, at their custom grazing operation, as well as their farming friends from Athabasca, Rusty and Agnes. Steve calls what he does ‘sustainable grazing’ and combines ideas from a range of thinkers including Allan Savory, as well as running his own training. Later that day we met former HM trainer Noel McNaughton, and the next day one of his star students, Don Ruzicka at Sunrise Farms, over near Wainwright. The weather is apocalyptic, but there is nothing like getting into the field, talking to people and looking at landscape to help you shape research so it really matters.
Announcing the third version of our farm extension website, BioLOG (Biodiversity Landowners’ Guide), a reboot funded by the ECCC SARPAL funding to the NSFA for the new Wood Turtle Strides (WTS) program. Nova Scotia DNR originally funded this project to supplement their Agricultural Biodiversity Conservation program after our evaluation of it. Thanks to WTS program manager Simon Greenland-Smith for shepherding the process.
Today marks the soft launch of the farm stewardship and incentive program for wood turtles, Wood Turtle Strides. Funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada, and hosted by the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, this program builds off the last six years of research on farm biodiversity in my lab and the collaborative relationships developed with the above organizations and others such as the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources. Wood Turtle Strides will partner with interested farmers who have critical habitat for wood turtles on ways to reduce mortality. Program Manager and lab alumnus, Simon Greenland-Smith, was on CBC Radio 1 Information Morning today to talk about the program, directing interested farmers to learn more via the new Facebook page, where he has also posted information about wood turtles such as how to identify them, and our two animated extension videos (modified harvest and riparian management).