2006 AGM Details

Nature Nova Scotia ~ Federation of Nova Scotia Naturalists

2006 Conference Program Details 


1. "Acadian Forests and Wildlife ~ the past 400 years" by Bob Bancroft

The primeval forests of mainland Nova Scotia that provided for the Mi'kmaq people while offering a wide range of terrestrial, aquatic and arboreal habitats for wild plants and animal species 400 years ago were very different from the forests found there today. After briefly tracing the associated human history, this talk will focus on the challenges and opportunities afforded by four centuries of repeated forest removals, while offering suggestions for those who would like to restore some of the original balance to ecosystems and habitats.

2. "Early Perspectives on the Fundy Environment" by Heather McLeod.

Early 17th and 18th century European narrative accounts of the Bay of Fundy environment provide baseline records of ecological abundance which seem fantastical by contemporary environmental realities. Since natural history played an important role in the struggle for empire, explorers and travel writers – like LesCarbot, Denys, Guthrie, Patrick and others – penned discovery literature which catalogued the land, rivers and flora and fauna with commodity value as subtext. Local natural history written by early resident colonists provided a sense of the impact of early land use, the need to better understand nature to improve community livelihoods and the need to prevent overexploitation of nature. This presentation will provide an overview of Fundy watershed ecological patterns and environmental issues identified in 17th, 18th and 19th century written accounts. A comparison will be made between ecological concepts known today and the recognition of natural history patterns in the past before a scientific vocabulary or profession existed to label and define such patterns.

3. "Getting our feet wet: volunteer water monitoring and salt marsh evaluation in the Annapolis River and Basinby Andy Sharpe and Denise Sullivan

For the past 14 years, CARP has been operating the Annapolis River Guardians, a volunteer-based water quality monitoring program on the Annapolis River and estuary. The program has established a long-term record of the river's health and continues to promote the preservation and sustainable use of the Annapolis River through dedicated community volunteers. The presentation will give an overview of the program, the various parameters sampled and important findings that have resulted from the monitoring. As well, we will also give a brief overview of the Annapolis Watershed Salt Marsh Evaluation conducted in the spring and summer of 2005. Years of development have resulted in many of the salt marshes along the Annapolis Basin being destroyed or altered. The purpose of the inventory was to identify and evaluate existing tidal barriers to salt marshes in and around Annapolis Basin, and to identify potential salt marsh restoration sites.

4. "Landscape Connectivity" by Amanda Lavers [Details to come].

5. " Monitoring the changing landscapes of SW Nova" by Dave Colville.

One of the main activities of the Applied Geomatics Research Group (AGRG) is the study of the landscapes of southwestern Nova Scotia, with a particular focus on the Annapolis Valley and North Mountain ecoregions. The AGRG has assembled an extensive collection of digital map data describing the natural environments of these areas. In addition to acquiring spatial data from various government departments, the AGRG has compiled a multi-temporal satellite imagery collection of southwestern NS, and high-resolution landcover and terrain data for the Valley region. The AGRG has also established an extensive automated network of in-situ sensors to support regional weather monitoring throughout the Valley (via weather stations and various data loggers to record temperatures, water levels and water quality). These data collection efforts provide an excellent basis for monitoring the changes taking place in the landscapes of southwestern NS. This presentation will highlight the AGRG's analysis of the changing forest conditions in the area over the past 15 years, and explain how data from our environmental sensor network is integrated with spatial data to monitor and analyze the meteorological conditions of the Valley region.

6. "Conserving Belleisle Marsh and grassland birds" by Glen Parsons.

Populations of many grassland bird species have been in sharp decline in recent decades, in part due to the fact that there has been a large net loss of hayfields and current hay harvest dates overlaps with nesting periods. Many large-scale management programs have been developed in attempt to halt or stall these declines. However, there are few regional-based programs that directly engage the farming community. One such program is in place at the Belleisle Marsh Wildlife Management Area in Nova Scotia, where agricultural producers license hay harvest rights from the Crown-owned agricultural land. In return, they must adhere to a policy of delayed hay harvest. As with any management scheme, there are tradeoffs to all stakeholders. Birds benefit by increased reproduction, however producers receive a reduction in hay quality. This presentation will be centered around recent research conducted at Belleisle Marsh to determine whether delayed hay cutting and late maturing hay cultivars are viable options for agricultural producers and breeding birds.

7. "Blanding's Turtle Conservation in Nova Scotia: Linking Science and Stewardship Through Public Education. " by Brennan Caverhill.

The Blanding's turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) in Nova Scotia is nationally and provincially endangered. It occurs in a complex of three distinguishable populations, one of which exists in a working landscape in and around Pleasant River (PR). The aim of my research was to help conserve this population through science, public education, and stewardship. I will use a colourful powerpoint presentation and show-and-tell items to provide background information regarding the Blanding's turtle in Nova Scotia, introduce you to the research team and current studies, and then discuss my work and evolving philosophy with the turtles. The aim of my work is to help ensure the survival of the rare Blanding's turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) in perpetuity, and my focus has been and remains the integration of science, public education, and stewardship at Pleasant River. Conservation biologists can help protect these turtles, but they cannot do it alone. Science generates information that can be effectively used to educate the public, who may in turn practice stewardship that enhances our conservation efforts.


Bob Bancroft ~ is a well-known naturalist and writer whose long outdoor experience makes him a regular, popular and knowledgeable guest on CBC Maritime Noon radio on conservation issues and wildlife. He received a MSc. from Acadia University and then spent 15 years as a regional wildlife and fisheries biologist in the three eastern mainland counties of NS. For 3 years he served as an extension biologist in Halifax, and for 9 years as a fisheries biologist with Inland Fisheries. He is currently self-employed as an assessor for Smartwood, an agency which certifies environmentally friendly woodlots through the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) guidelines. He is also an editorial contributor and writer for Eastern Woods and Waters, the Atlantic Salmon Journal, Saltscapes , and writer for other magazines – including Nova Outdoors, Atlantic Forestry Review. He was also elected Chair of the Nova Forest Alliance, Nova Scotia's Model Forest. He presently lives in Pomquet, NS, with wife and artist, Alice Reed, on 57 acres of woodland overlooking the harbour, where restoring the Acadian forest has been a priority for more than 30 years.

 Heather McLeod ~ teaches environmental studies in Saint Mary's University's Atlantic Canada Studies Graduate Program. Her research interests have focused on regional environmental history, expressions of ecological identity, and conflict and cooperation in environmental behaviour. She is also the co-author of the book, Edible Wild Plants of Nova Scotia.

Denise Sullivan ~ ~ is a researcher with the Clean Annapolis River Project (CARP), specializing in waterways and wetlands. [Details to come]

Amanda Lavers ~ is Manager of the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute (MTRI) located in Kempt, near Kejimkujik. She is an alumni of Dalhousie and Acadia Universities. She has worked with Parks Canada and volunteered with the Ecology Action Centre, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, and Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve. She grew up in Truro but have been living and working near Kejimkujik for the past 10 years. I love canoeing, skiing, and am an amateur naturalist with a particular interest in forest birds, flying squirrels, and old-growth Acadian forests. She is also a member of the South Shore Naturalists and an honorary member of the Annapolis Field Naturalists Society.

Dave Colville ~ David is a research scientist and faculty member with the Applied Geomatics Research Group (AGRG) at the Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS). He has 20 years of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) teaching and research experience, and holds degrees in biology and environmental studies from Acadia and Dalhousie Universities. David's research interests focus on monitoring, modeling, and managing our ecological landscapes. He uses specialized hardware and software systems for the integration of multi-scale and multi-temporal data sets (derived from satellite and airborne imagery as well as field-based environmental monitoring technologies) to study land cover change, habitat modeling, ecoregional analysis, and landscape characterization.

Graham Daborn ~ has for the last 30 years been involved in many kinds of research dealing primarily with aquatic ecosystems: lakes, ponds and estuaries, particularly the macrotidal estuaries of the Bay of Fundy system. As Director of the Acadia Centre for Estuarine Research ACER, Graham's research studies have covered the full range of topics in estuarine research, from the primary production of phytoplankton, benthic diatoms and saltmarshes, to the population dynamics, growth rates and feeding relationships of crustaceans, fish and birds. He has also studied the effects of human modifications of estuaries and coastal waters, especially tidal power, dams and causeways, and the dredging of coastal bays and harbours. He has also conducted research on the capacity of local human communities to take responsibility for dealing with their environmental issues. He was involved in the design of the Atlantic Estuaries Cooperative Venture, which eventually became the Atlantic Coastal Action Plan (ACAP) and, through ACER, has supported numerous NGO's, especially the Clean Annapolis River Project, which is the original of the ACAP groups. During 19967 he established two community groups in watersheds of North Island, New Zealand as demonstrations of the ACAP model of community engagement. Recent research has included a major study of the Windsor Causeway and saltmarsh system, aimed at assessing the implications of highway expansion, and use of the unique new tidal mesocosms in the K.C. Irving building for the study of mudflat and saltmarsh processes. Socioeconomic research has examined the factors determining the capacity of local communities in the Annapolis Valley to deal with the environmental implications of clean water. Graham is currently engaged in several joint projects and research proposals that deal with water quality, groundwater availability, water exports and conservation, through the Canadian Water Network, the Geological Survey of Canada, Friends of the Earth and World Wildlife Fund. Graham is currently Director of the Arthur Irving Academy for the Environment at Acadia University [http://academy.atlanticwebfitters.ca/ ] .


Glen Parsons ~ is the Program Manager for the Eastern Habitat Joint Venture (EHJV) with the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (Wildlife Division) based in Kentville, NS. . The EHJV is a multi-stakeholder partnership aimed at conserving wetlands and associated upland habitats for waterfowl and other wildlife in eastern Canada. Current program activities of the EHJV in Nova Scotia involve private wetland stewardship, enhancement and management in the agricultural landscape; land/habitat acquisition; communications; policy; and directed research focused around agricultural/wildlife issues. Glen is an Adjunct Professor at Acadia University and supervises students involved in wildlife management and habitat conservation research projects. Glen has authored and co-authored several articles and posters on wildlife management issues and is an active member of various wildlife and habitat conservation teams and committees.

Brennan Caverhill ~ is a graduate student in Biology at Acadia University who is engaged in ground-breaking research on the endangered Blanding's Turtle in NS. He was born and raised in Woodstock, New Brunswick, Canada (1981-1999). In the Fall 1999 he enrolled at Acadia University – "I chose this school because it had a good Biology program and faculty, as well as small classes, and it was in a small town. Wolfville was far enough away from Woodstock that I felt independent, but it was close enough that I could get home in a day if I needed to. Not to mention, some friends were at Acadia and my sister was in the final year of her Psychology degree there. It felt like home away from home. I lived in Wolfville for four years (1999-2003), met amazing people, learned a lot, and had fun." In his fourth year he completed an honours project on the Pleasant River Blanding's turtles, and graduated in May 2003 with a BScH in Biology. "Finding encouragement in a nifty project, supervisor, school, and town, and other inspiration, I decided to stay in Nova Scotia to continue my studies at Acadia and earn an MSc Biology degree (2003-2006)".

Field Trips

Boat Trip* ~ Annapolis Basin birds and coastal scenery

This trip was originally scheduled aboard the 45-foot vessel "Sonya Marie", operated by Captain Linden Turnbull of Basin Charters. However, due to a large and unexpected increase in insurance premiums, the Sonya Marie will not be chartering this year. The marine tours will now be accommodated aboard the company's smaller 12 person "Coastal Explorer". This is a speedier vessel, which will enable more marine areas to be visited. It is also sheltered from the weather, so this is a "rain or shine" tour. The vessel will depart from and return to the wharf in Digby. We will explore the waters inside the Annapolis Basin from Digby Gut to the Bear River to Goat Island which are productive birding areas at this time of year. Captain Turnbull is a licensed charter boat skipper with many years of experience. In addition he is extremely knowledgeable about marine life. As well AFNS member Dave Tinker, who enjoys birding from his own sailboat, will be local coordinator on the tour. Participants are advised to bring warm clothing, as it is much cooler on the water than on land. Refreshments are not sold on board but everyone is welcome to bring their own. Alcoholic beverages are not permitted.

The Coastal Explorer only holds half as many people as the Sonya Marie, so in order to accommodate those wishing to take this tour, we will schedule two consecutive 2-hour tours. During the alternating "land times" a guided 1.5-hour trip along the coastal area at nearby Point Prim will be available if desired. This area is noted for its spectacular coastal landscape, abundance of coastal flora and sightings of seals and seabirds. For more information and a picture of the Coastal Explorer visit the Basin Charters website at www.basincharters.ns.ca. [Note: There is a $20 per person charge for this trip.]

B. Bear River Cultural Centre. /Medicine Trail "A Mi'kmaq experience"

Explore thousands of years of Mi'kmaq heritage, culture and traditions through displays, videos and artifacts at the Bear River First Nation Heritage and Cultural Centre and gift shop. In it's opening year, the Heritage and Cultural Centre/ Medicine Trail received the coveted 2004 Innovator of the Year Crystal Award from the Tourism Industy Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS). Explore the nearby 1.28 km peaceful medicine trail with a well-informed Mi'kmaq guide who will share beliefs and traditional uses associated with the woodland plants and trees. This is an easy walk and walking shoes are appropriate. Meet in the Foyer of Champlain Hall for departure at 1:15 p.m. Carpool for the 15 minute drive to Bear River. Trip duration will be 3-4 hours. Gini Proulx will be the local AFNS trip coordinator and leader. [Note: There will be a $5 per person charge for this trip to cover the cost of the entrance fee to the Cultural Centre].

C. Annapolis area wetlands/Historic Gardens

Researcher Denise Sullivan of CARP will be our principal guide for this tour of the fresh and salt marsh wetlands around Annapolis Royal. Historically, the shores of the Annapolis Basin were covered by extensive salt marshes. These rich and diverse ecosystems contributed to the overall health of the Annapolis Basin and estuary as well as the adjacent Bay of Fundy in a number of ways. The field trip will explore the ecology of salt marshes, current threats to the important habitat in the Annapolis Basin and area, as well as recent initiatives by the Ecology Action Centre, CARP, and others to restore restricted salt marshes. The walk will include the last remaining salt marsh of any significance in the Annapolis Watershed, the Allain's River Marsh. Ian Davidson of the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens will give us a tour of the salt marsh interpretive display and also discuss the history of how the early Acadians used salt marshes in agriculture with dykes and aboiteaux, etc. The field trip will also showcase the Annapolis Royal Marsh, a constructed freshwater wetland in the town. Steve Hawboldt, Executive Director of CARP, will lead the group around the 1.2 km long French Basin Trail and talk about the use of the marsh in sewage treatment, the ecology of the constructed marsh, as well as the use of the marsh as an outdoor classroom. The entire walk offers exceptional opportunities for birding. The walk is easy to moderate and comfortable walking shoes should suffice. [Note: There will be a $6 per person charge to cover the Garden’s entrance fee.]

D. Melanson Settlement and Queen Anne dykelands.

A Parks Canada interpreter will discuss the use of this National Historic Site by early Acadian settlers. We will also explore the wildlife of the adjacent dykelands with local naturalist Sharon Hawboldt, who prepared a site survey report on the birds and ecologist Mike Parker of East Coast Aquatics, who prepared survey reports on the small mammals, amphibians/reptiles and Lepidoptera of the area. Easy to moderate 2-3 km walk. Wear comfortable walking shoes.

E. Belleisle Marsh and Bobolinks.

Join Glen Parsons on an easy walk around this lush meadowland and former saltmarsh on the banks of the Annapolis River. We will stroll the trails and roads to view and discuss the various wetland and upland habitats and wildlife that exist Glen will discuss how the Belleisle Marsh integrates wildlife, recreation and agriculture and talk about recent studies on grassland birds such as bobolinks at Belleisle Marsh. The several freshwater impoundments provide excellent viewing opportunities for seeing many species of waterfowl and other marshland birds and wildlife. Sharon Hawboldt, whose house overlooks the marsh and who is a very frequent visitor to the marsh, will be the local AFNS coordinator for the trip. An easy to moderate 2-3 km walk, comfortable walking shoes will be suitable.

F. Pleasant River Blandings turtle study site.

Brennan Caverhill will lead us through his Blanding's Turtle study sites around this rural village near Keji. We will begin our field trip at the corner of HWY 208 and the New Elm Road in the parking lot of the Trinity United Church, in the heart of the Pleasant River Community. I will have air photos and maps available to discuss population distribution, typical turtle home-ranges, and other aspects of the Blanding's turtle's ecology. We will then walk along an abandoned railway that runs directly through wetland habitat in the core of the Pleasant River population. We will visit spring, summer, fall, and winter areas, as well as several nesting sites. I will set a few traps so we can together experience the excitement of checking them. We may also have an opportunity to track radio-tagged turtles, so wear your hip-waders if you are willing to follow me into the wetlands! Easy to moderate walking in wet areas; boots recommended; hip waders optional.

G. "Ancient Spirits on a Changing Shore ~ how Lnu'k Lived in Mi'kmakik ".

Join archaeologist Roger Lewis in a visit to the site of a 2000 year-old Mi'kmaq summer camp at the mouth of the Bear River. Roger is an archaeological researcher with Kwilmuk Maw-klusuaqn Negotiations office [http://www.mikmaqrights.com/index.php]. He was educated at Saint Mary's University in Halifax and Memorial University of Newfoundland. His particular field of interest includes: Mi'kmaq precontact Archaeology, settlement and subsistence patterns, mobility patterns, land and resource use and technological strategies. We will also look at the evidence of sea-level change on this Annapolis Basin beach. This is an easy to moderate 1km return walk. Wear comfortable walking shoes.

H. "Self-guided" tour of local attractions.

Information will be available if you would like to explore on your own some of the popular destinations in the area such as the Upper Clements Wildlife Park, The Annapolis Tidal Power Station or the Annapolis Historic Gardens.

Early Morning Nature Walks

Saturday wildflowers ~ "Wildflower or weed? … Native or introduced?" Join local botanist Gini Proulx in an exploration of our roadside and woodland plants at the nearby Upper Clements Game Sanctuary and Wildlife Park ~ for map go to: [http://www.gov.ns.ca/natr/wildlife/sanctuaries/pdfs/upclements.pdf] This will be an easy walk and walking shoes are appropriate. Meet in Foyer of Champlain Hall for departure at 6:15 a.m. Carpool for 10 minute drive to site. Returning about 7:45 a.m.

Saturday birds ~ [details to come]

Sunday wildflowers ~ "Wildflower or weed? … Native or introduced?" Join local botanist Gini Proulx in an exploration of our roadside and woodland plants at the nearby Upper Clements Game Sanctuary and Wildlife Park ~ for map go to: http://www.gov.ns.ca/natr/wildlife/sanctuaries/pdfs/upclements.pdf] This will be an easy walk and walking shoes are appropriate. Meet in Foyer of Champlain Hall for departure at 6:15 a.m. Carpool for 10 minute drive to site. Returning about 7:45 a.m.

Sunday birds ~ [details to come]