Island Nature Trust
Working Towards Co-Management of Protected Forest Bird Habitat
This project took place in Island Nature Trust- and provincially-owned natural areas and provincially-owned plantations in Afton Road and on the Morell and Midgell Rivers in 2019. Both Island Nature Trust (INT) and the Abegweit Conservation Society (ACS) regularly work in these focal areas. The goals of the project were:
To develop co-management strategies and ways to incorporate two-eyed seeing (western science paired with Indigenous knowledge) into Island Nature Trust's baseline documentation reports and management plans
To build capacity within the ACS to monitor forest birds using autonomous recording units (ARUs)
To better understand the differences in abiotic factors between forests under different management regimes, how abiotic factor affect forest bird communities, and how they may shift with climate change
This project was successful in building relationships between INT and the ACS. Throughout the summer, staff from both organizations met regularly to install and retrieve ARUs, monitor for and manage invasive species, and carry out stewardship work in the focal areas. Building relationships is a first step in working towards co-management. In our work towards incorporating two-eyed seeing into management documents, INT has hired a traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) coordinator. The TEK coordinator will work over the winter to gather Indigenous and non-Indigenous TEK, which will then be woven into INT's baseline documentation reports, management plans, and all subsequent education and outreach materials.
Through this project, staff members from INT and the ACS were trained by Peter Thomas (Landbird Biologist, Canadian Wildlife Service) in how to program, install, and retrieve data from ARUs. INT and ACS staff then used ARUs to collect forest bird community data in 3 natural areas and 3 plantations in Afton Road and along the Morell and Midgell Rivers (6 sites total). Data on abiotic features at sites were not collected because matching funds did not arrive in time to purchase the necessary soil data loggers.
Using the bird community data gathered by the ARUs and interpreted by INT staff, we were able to gain some insight into forest bird species composition and how it compares across forest management regimes. Data has not been completely analyzed yet; however a preliminary look at the data reveals that both plantations and natural forests support a great diversity of birds. Forty-one species were detected by the ARUs, including 3 species at risk, Canada Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher, and Eastern Wood-pewee. Both plantations and natural forests provide habitat for species at risk. Plantations could particularly important for shrub and ground nesters, and wet woodland and shrub foragers.
This project provides indirect benefits to wildlife. By learning more about patterns of habitat use by forest-nesting species across management regimes, we can adapt management practices in ways that improve conditions for all nesting and foraging guilds, and for species of conservation concern.