Using Bird Conservation Region strategies

Cover photo of the publication for BCR Strategies.

Introduction

The primary aims of BCR strategies are to present Environment and Climate Change Canada’s priorities with respect to migratory bird conservation, and to provide a comprehensive overview of the conservation needs of bird populations to practitioners who may then undertake activities that promote bird conservation in Canada and internationally.

To achieve these aims, BCR strategies provide landscape level information on 6 main elements of conservation including priority bird species (Element 1) and their habitat associations (Element 2), population objectives (Element 3), threats faced by priority species (Element 4), conservation objectives (Element 5) and proposed conservation actions (Element 6) to help reach the objectives. The information in the strategies is standardized across regions, integrated across species and follows widely accepted assessment methods.

Users from all levels of government, aboriginal communities, the private sector, academia, non-governmental organization (NGO)s and citizens will benefit from the information. BCR strategies can be used in many different ways depending on the needs of the user, who may focus on one or more of the elements of the strategy.

Regional-level BCR Strategies supplement national-level information, e.g., State of the Birds Report, Status of Birds website, and other conservation plans, to provide a suite of conservation planning guidance to Canadians.

Land use planning and managing the working landscape

Users in this category may choose to focus their initial attention on key habitats (Element 2) to gain an understanding of the types of habitats used by the priority indicated species (Element 1). A review of the key threats (Element 4) and conservation objectives (Element 5) would further their understanding of the types of activities that would help or hinder attaining population objectives (Element 3). Land managers would acquire the foundation for making planning decisions by consulting the strategy’s recommended actions (Element 6) to support birds and the habitats they rely on. For example, this approach could incorporate important habitats and habitat features for priority bird species in:

  • Land use planning exercises, from large scale (province/territory-wide, e.g., Nunavut land use plan) to local and municipal plans (additional, more detailed resources, such as breeding bird atlases or habitat planning guidelines, may be required to adequately support local planning efforts).
  • Environmental assessment (EA) and project permitting decisions, from national level EA decisions (such as transborder pipelines) to forestry harvest plans, especially when designing:
    • General operating plans
    • Mitigation plans for damaged bird habitat
    • Permit conditions or voluntary practices to support work towards conservation objectives outlined in the BCR strategies
  • Informing sustainable development, even when EA or permits are not required, to help proponents avoid or mitigate impacts of their activity on migratory birds.
  • Projects (industry, government, and individuals) to enhance degraded habitats and restore ecosystem function (e.g., improving connectivity of forest patches, restoring prairie/riparian habitats, conducting prescribed burns).

Protected areas planning and management

Users in this category may choose to focus on the priority species and their habitat associations (Elements 1 and 2) as indicated in the BCR strategy to identify key habitats that may warrant protection. When planning and managing protected areas (including National, provincial/territorial, municipal protected areas, easements, stewardship agreements) the relative magnitude of threats (Element 4) facing priority species would support meeting population objectives (Element 3) and may be specifically indicated in conservation recommendations (Element 6) that:

  • identify representative habitat types and ecological function for protection in a given BCR
  • maximize the protection of priority bird species or ensure that representative species or guilds are included

Direct species management

All users should understand that BCR strategies generally integrate conservation actions across bird species, but they also identify some species that require direct targeted intervention (Element 6), including:

  • Bird species that have unique requirements (e.g., nest boxes or other breeding structures, or particular habitat features)
  • Invasive species (either plant or animal) that require direct control to reduce predation on bird species or maintain required habitat conditions
  • Management of bird species that exceed their population objectives to mitigate the effects on habitat or other birds

Other activities contributing to bird conservation

Regulations and policy tools

Users in this category would focus on conservation priorities (Element 5) identified in BCR strategies to benefit species and habitats indicated in Elements 1 and 2 by informing and influencing:

  • legislation or policies at all levels (international, national, provincial/territorial/aboriginal, local) especially those that affect the availability of habitat (e.g., biofuels policy, wetlands policies)
  • voluntary standards and professional codes that govern private sector practice (e.g., beneficial management practices, certification programs) that can address bird conservation issues

Research and monitoring

Users in this category may choose to focus on filling information gaps identified in Element 6 (conservation actions) that:

  • Limit our ability to design appropriate conservation action (e.g., species ecology, migratory linkages, limiting factors, and response to mitigation)
  • Preclude status assessment due to incomplete understanding of population trend and other monitoring

Economic and ither incentives

Users in this category can apply the conservation objectives (Element 5) to influence activities that support a green economy that benefits priority species (Element 1) and their habitats (Element 2). For example, the strategies may be useful to guide:

  • enterprises that support sustainable use of natural resources in local communities (e.g., ecotourism, non-timber forest products) both in Canada and in other countries important to Canadian birds
  • market mechanisms to change behaviours and attitudes (e.g., certification, incentives, valuation of ecosystem services, etc.)
  • funding programs that are targeted towards environmental conservation

Communication and outreach

Users interested in promoting the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats (as indicated in Elements 1 and 2) can use the recommendations in the remaining elements to build a conservation communications plan. Encouraging communication would support implementation of the recommended actions (Element 6) in BCR strategies and could be facilitated by communication efforts that:

  • ensure skills and information exchange for practitioners, stakeholders and other relevant individuals to assist them in implementation (e.g., training workshops for land managers, how-to manuals for industry, government and NGO practitioners)
  • raise environmental awareness and change societal attitudes and behaviours using various media (e.g., internet, blogs, community events, etc.)
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