Island Nature Trust
Supporting Local Stewardship of Natural Areas Across PEI
This project provided direct and indirect benefits to wildlife across PEI. Through our restoration efforts we directly benefitted wildlife that use our natural areas. In 2016, INT staff and volunteers planted over 700 trees and shrubs on INT properties. The majority of these (except for those few unpalatable species) were protected from grazers in order to achieve high survival rates. Trees and shrubs planted will provide habitat and food sources for wildlife for years to come. These plantings will also provide a seed source for the surrounding area, widening our direct benefits to wildlife beyond INT Natural Areas.
Invasive species removal and control by INT staff and volunteers provided another direct benefit to Island wildlife that use INT properties. Invasive species can establish and take over an area, drastically reducing the biodiversity of an area, increasing competitive pressure on Species at Risk, and displacing native species. By controlling and removing invasive species, INT staff and volunteers removed these additional pressures from native wildlife communities in INT properties.
An additional indirect benefit to wildlife provided by this project is the protection from disturbance afforded by the regular, unobtrusive presence of volunteers in INT properties. With volunteers surveying INT properties regularly, there is a reduced risk of habitat destruction from illegal uses such as tree cutting, garbage dumping and over-harvesting.
The project goals revisited:
- Establish a network of individuals and groups that will commit to local stewardship activities in the medium- to long-term. Eleven volunteer Conservation Guardians were recruited and trained through this project. Ten INT properties now have committed guardians.
- Establish the ongoing stewardship needs of INT Natural Areas and restore or enhance habitat based on that baseline documentation. Over 20 INT properties were visited as part of this project. INT staff removed invasive plant species from seven INT properties, worked with Morell River Management Cooperative and Ducks Unlimited to manage beaver populations on two INT properties, and did garbage cleanups on three INT properties. In addition, 738 trees and shrubs were planted on INT properties where forest diversification was identified as a high priority. Species that are favoured by snowshoe hare and meadow vole were protected from grazing with wire cages and plastic white wraps; in many environments seedling survival rates are less than 50% in the first winter without such protection.
- Promote local stewardship and use of INT Natural Areas. Fifteen individuals have signed up to be Conservation Guardians with Island Nature Trust (not all have received training yet). In total, 24 volunteers contributed approximately 100 hours to this project in 2016. Conservation Guardians will be eyes and ears on the ground to report stewardship needs and actions required, but also a voice in the local community to share information about INT properties and engage additional community members. These properties are conserved for present and future generations of Islanders and we are trying to encourage their responsible use and enjoyment.