Archives for 2020

Jan
22
Where have the birds gone?

view details »

January 22, 2020 - Regina, SK – In the Fall of 2019 a report was published in the online journal Science indicating that since 1970, the United States and Canada have lost nearly 3 billion birds and in general, bird species have declined by an alarming 29 percent. Of that, grassland bird species were found to be especially hit hard, with a 53 percent decrease in population numbers.

To many, the bird’s role in the ecosystem may seem insignificant. Often they go about fulfilling their role without much notice. In addition to being an important part of the food web they also play an important role in pest control. For instance, the endangered Loggerhead Shrike preys on pests such as rodents and grasshoppers while Barn Swallows are amazing aerial acrobats that feed on pesky mosquitos. Many bird species also aid in seed dispersal, pollination and even help to keep the environment clean, as in the case of species such as the Turkey Vulture.

Many people hear these heartbreaking statistics and feel that this problem, while indeed sad, is just too big to do anything about on a local level. In fact, Nature Saskatchewan believes that this is exactly where changes need to begin first. “Bird watching is one of the fastest growing outdoor activities in Canada. We can all do something to assist birds and nature, whether it be feeding birds, building nest boxes, preserving habitat on our properties or keeping our domestic cats indoors, we can all help birds in different ways,” says Lorne Scott, Conservation Director for Nature Saskatchewan.

Simple measures taken by local residents, such as installing a film visible to birds on your home windows, using less plastics, gardening with native plants and joining citizen science projects will all have a positive effect. One of the biggest ways we can help is by teaching children and others about the importance of birds and why we should appreciate them. "It is common knowledge that children who spend time outdoors are generally healthier. With an ever increasing urban population, children are further removed from nature. Field trips or nature hikes provide exercise and learning opportunities for all ages. Observing nature in our communities and in parks can lead to outdoor projects that assist birds and provide outlets for new adventures,” says Scott.

It is clear that changes need to be made if we hope to help the birds and in turn help ourselves. But big change often happens when small steps are taken by many. To learn more about this study and what you can do to help, go to www.3billionbirds.org.

 

For further information, please contact:

 

Jordan Ignatiuk, Nature Saskatchewan Executive Director
306-780-9293 or jignatiuk@naturesask.ca

Lorne Scott, Nature Saskatchewan Conservation Director
306-306-695-2047 or 306-695-7458  lorne.scott@sasktel.net


 

Photo credit: Gary Houston

 

Mar
13
Saskatchewan Needs a Wetland Conservation Policy We Can Celebrate

view details »

On February 2, 2020 people all around the globe celebrated World Wetlands Day, a day where we recognize and celebrate the many benefits that wetlands provide. This year’s theme was “Wetland Biodiversity Matters: Life thrives in wetlands”.

In Saskatchewan, we’ve lost, and continue to lose, many of our wetlands and the benefits they afford. Wetlands positively impact people from all walks of life by providing clean water, flood and drought protection, and recreation opportunities. When wetlands are drained, these ecological goods and services are lost.

In late 2019, the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency (WSA) began consulting stakeholders on a new Wetland Conservation Policy for agricultural land that would allow drainage to occur, but with limits designed to ensure preservation of wetland benefits. This policy has the power to reduce the effects of wetland loss and protect wetland benefits, while demonstrating that the agriculture industry is committed to increased sustainability. It falls short.

The biggest deficiency of WSA’s policy is the provision allowing landowners to drain smaller wetlands in exchange for implementing alternate conservation measures, such as planting winter cereals or protecting other natural areas. While conserving other habitat types is well-intentioned, wetlands provide a unique suite of values that are quite simply not met by conserving any other habitats. This would be like swapping out your fridge for your stove in your kitchen. They both look great but perform completely different tasks. The tasks and services provided by wetlands are just not met by other habitats to the same degree.

Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) believes the Saskatchewan government should ensure all developments that result in the loss of wetlands follow a true mitigation sequence: avoid, reduce, and compensate. Avoid harm to wetlands where possible, reduce impacts to wetlands if avoidance cannot be achieved, and finally, as a last resort, compensate for loss of wetlands. Compensation must include restoration of all features being lost. This is standard practice for other industrial development in Saskatchewan and much of Canada. Replace wetlands with wetlands. It only makes sense and is most fair to those other industries that are already mitigating wetland loss for the benefit of Saskatchewan residents.

WSA’s Wetland Conservation Policy will have significant ramifications. If done correctly, a true mitigation policy for the agriculture sector will create a balance between the conservation needs of society and the production needs of agriculture. As a result, communities will experience less downstream flooding, recreational users and cottage owners will enjoy improved water quality, governments will better work toward climate change commitments through carbon storage, and wildlife enthusiasts will be confident that the fish and wildlife habitat they value will be there in perpetuity.

It’s time that Saskatchewan follows the lead of our neighbours in Alberta and Manitoba and develop a more balanced mitigation policy, one that offers protection for municipalities, producers, and society. This type of progressive policy will not only acknowledge the full range of benefits wetlands provide, but also ensure our ag producers are poised to reap the rewards of a more sustainable industry, including increased public trust and better access to world markets.

With anticipation, we look forward to celebrating that type of wetland policy for Saskatchewan on World Wetlands Day 2021.

Brian Hepworth
Manager of Provincial Operations, SK
Ducks Unlimited Canada

Mar
19
Temporary Office Closure

view details »

In light of Covid-19 and the recent protective measures put in place by the Government of Saskatchewan and for the safety and health of our staff and their families, our office is closed until further notice. We will be working remotely and will be accessible by email. We will be re-evaluating on an ongoing basis. You can find a staff listing here in order to best direct your email.

For any urgent questions or concerns, please e-mail info@naturesask.ca, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and visit our website at www.naturesask.ca for further information and updates concerning events and office availability going forward. Please note that events and gatherings have been cancelled across the province for the near future.

At this time we are also unable to ship any books or merchandise. Please wait to order any of these items until our office has re-opened. That being said, we are still able to process  memberships and donations that are processed through our web-store.

Thank you for your understanding. We encourage you to continue to enjoy nature on your own or with members of your household. Please remember the importance of social distancing while being out in nature. Take this time to slow down and appreciate the calm that nature can provide. 

*If you are needing information regarding sick or injured wildlife, please contact one of our wildlife rehabilitation groups in the province; Living Sky Wildlife in Saskatoon region and Salthaven West in the Regina region.*