The Celebration of Nature is our big annual event, a talk and hike series as well as our AGM, and it always falls on the last weekend in May. Pre-COVID when the event took place entirely in-person, we would rotate locations around the province and a local NatureNS member group would host the event. This year, we’re running a hybrid event, where the talks and AGM are virtual and the hikes/outings are in-person and take place all around the province.
Following tradition, Friday evening will be dedicated to the Celebration opening and Key Note presentation, where we’ll learn about forest disturbance regimes and current trends in forestry with Dr. David Patriquin. Field trips will take place all day Saturday and Sunday, organized by local leaders across the province, and will adhere to provincial guidance on COVID-19 and Nature Nova Scotia’s additional precautions. These will be followed by evening talks with knowledgeable guest speakers. We will be using Zoom for the symposium and AGM, so you will want to download the application in advance if you aren’t already a Zoom user.
Field trips are free and open to all nature lovers on the basis of first-registered, with priority given to current members of NatureNS. Talks and the AGM are free for all current members, to members of NatureNS member groups if registered by May 20th, and to all other natural history enthusiasts through our $10 ticket option (hey, that’s the same as the fee for a NatureNS membership, go figure!). You must be a current NatureNS member to be eligible for a vote at the AGM.
7pm: Welcome and Overview, Bob Bancroft
7:15pm Key Note Talk (Online) “Nova Scotia’s Windy Forests,” Dr. David Patriquin
Dr. Patriquin is an ecologist and retired biology professor from Dalhousie University, long-time member and volunteer of several Nova Scotian natural history societies, and the writer of the Wabanaki and Maritime forest-focused blog, NS Forest Notes. For our 2022 Celebration opening, David will introduce us to the natural community dynamics of our Nova Scotian forests and talk about current issues in forest use: wind disturbance, pit and mound topography, salvage harvests, old growth policy, depleted soils, the Lahey Report, and the concerning place our forests are at now in Nova Scotia.
6am: “Birding” w Ken McKenna, Nova Scotia Bird Society, Waterside Beach Provincial Park, Pictou
7am: “Spring Warbler Walk” w Jason Dain, Nova Scotia Bird Society, Jerry Lawrence Provincial Park, Upper Tantallon
7am: “Canada Warbler Walk and Talk” w Dr. Cindy Staicer, Dalhousie University, Shearwater Flyer Trail, Cole Harbour
8:30am: “Waterfalls and Birds – Twilight of Hemlock and Beech” w Donna Crossland, Nature Nova Scotia, Tupperville Falls, Annapolis County
9am: “Family-Friendly Intro to Birding” w Becky Parker, Young Naturalists Club, Point Pleasant Park, Halifax
9am: “A Gypsum Floodplain” w Patrick Kelly and Joanne Cook, Nature Nova Scotia, Herbert River Trail, South Rawdon
9:30am: “Splendid Sandy Lake Park” w Karen McKendry, Ecology Action Centre, Sandy Lake Regional Park, Bedford
10am: “Edible Wild Plants” w Suzanne Gauthier, NS Wild Flora Society, Fundy Geological Museum, Parrsborro
10am (all day): “McNabs Island” w Cathy McCarthy, Friends of McNabs Island, boat from Eastern Passage
1pm: “Intro to Coastal Barrens” w Becky Parker, Nature Nova Scotia, Peggy’s Cove Preservation Area, West Dover
1pm: “Splendid Sandy Lake Park” w Karen McKendry, Ecology Action Centre, Sandy Lake Regional Park, Bedford
1pm: “Spring Birds and Botany” w Betty Hodgson, Friends of Pugwash Estuary, Estuary House/Peace Trail, Pugwash
1pm: “Stone Bear- Twilight of Hemlock and Beech” w Donna Crossland, Nature Nova Scotia, Bear River
1:30pm: “Restoring Wildlife Habitat” w Bob Bancroft, Nature Nova Scotia, location TBD, Pomquet
6pm: “Getting Your Feet Wet: Exploring the Wonders, Value, and Diversity of Wetlands in Nova Scotia” Chad Simmons, Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute
When many people think of biodiversity, they think of rainforests or coral reefs, but we can stay closer to home and still find thriving ecosystems with rich wildlife. Wetlands are some of the most fantastic environments you will find in Nova Scotia and each one often looks very different from the other. Their complexity, many ecological services and biodiversity have made them a priority ecosystem in the province, including at the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute. MTRI’s work is striving to better understand wetlands while working with governments, NGOs and researchers to make sure they are conserved and protected. Join Chad Simmons, Ecologist, while he shares the latest research coming out of wetlands and his work to conserve forested wetlands, often called swamps, in Kespukwitk (Southwest Nova Scotia).
6:30pm: “Insights from the Hope for Wildlife Rehabilitation Database”, Hope Swinimer, Hope for Wildlife, Dr. Cindy Staicer, and Dr. Amy Mui, Dalhousie University
The Bird Friendly Halifax coalition is a group of nature organizations and concerned citizens working together to make HRM a more bird friendly city. In this talk, three of the coalition’s members will present on collaborative research to better understand threats to birds in the Halifax area. Hope will present an overview of the Hope For Wildilfe rehabilitation centre and the work it does to rehabilitate injured birds, Dr. Cindy Staicer, Dalhousie Biology, Dr. Amy Mui, Dalhousie Earth and Environmental Sciences, and students Kayla Doucette, Shannon Neville, and Grace Nettinga, will introduce projects examining trends in Hope’s multi-year database. A panel discussion will follow to summarize and take questions from the audience.
7:30pm: “Scotian Shores: Cleaning the Shorelines Through Connections” Angela Riley, Scotian Shores
In the Summer of 2020 Scotian Shores started making the shorelines of Nova Scotia a little cleaner while creating awareness of the ocean’s plastic crisis. The money raised from the sales of their locally made products goes towards funding more clean up efforts, awareness projects, purchasing clean up equipment and more! Founder Angela will talk to us about how they got started, why they care about our shorelines, and what they have been able to accomplish by working together with a team of volunteer ocean warriors.
8pm: “Sunset Walk on Partridge Island Beach” (a contemplative walk for adults) w John Brownlie, Cobequid Young Naturalists Club; Ottawa House. Parrsboro.
9am: President’s Report, Staff Reports
9:30am: Member Group Reports
10:30am: Planning for 2022-2023
11am: “It’s a Wild World at the Bog Pond” (dragonflies and moths; kid-friendly) w John Brownlie; Cobequid Young Naturalists Club; Fundy Geological Museum, Parrsboro.
12pm: “Urban Park Guided Walk to Susie Lake” w Unity Cooper, Nature Nova Scotia and Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area, Halifax
1pm: “The Burnable Backlands” w Karen McKendry, Ecology Action Centre, Purcells Cove Backlands, Spryfield
1pm: “Making a Splash: Exploring the World of Wetlands at the French Basin Trail” w Chad Simmons, Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute, French Basin Trail, Annapolis Royal
1:30pm: “Restoring Wildlife Habitat” w Bob Bancroft, Nature Nova Scotia, location TBD, Pomquet
2pm: “Waterfalls and Birds – Twilight of Hemlock and Beech” w Donna Crossland, Nature Nova Scotia, Tupperville Falls, Annapolis County
2pm: “Gysum Sinkholes and Birds” w Patrick Kelly and Joanne Cook, Nature Nova Scotia, Avondale Community Trail, Windsor
2pm: “Insect Hunt at Long Lake” w Dr. Heather Cray, Dalhousie University, Long Lake Provincial Park, Halifax
2pm: “Wentworth Locals” w Leslie Dykeman, Protect Wentworth Valley, HWY 4 #15059 (by Four Seasons of Adventure billboard)
6pm: “The Time is Now: Mainland Moose Recovery as Healing Nature and People”, Dr. Karen Beazley, School for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University
The fractured relationship between people and nature has led to crises in biodiversity, climate and humanity. In NS, the endangered Mainland moose may serve as a focal point for rallying action to retain and recover core habitat, for the benefit of people and nature. The Recovery Plan for NS Mainland Moose delineates core habitat and details threats and actions to address them. Though not perfect, the Recovery Plan serves as a commitment to which decision makers may be held to account. Moose represent a focal species for conservation, as a functionally-important, sensitive and vulnerable, habitat-quality-indicator, and umbrella species. Moose are bio-culturally important to the Mi’Kmaq. Recovery of viable moose populations will require re-established connectivity (e.g., corridors and safe passageways) among remnant forest patches in mainland NS and into NB. Considered together, thinking and acting in collaborative relationships of respect and reciprocity for the recovery of Mainland moose holds promise to catalyse transformation for healing nature and people.
6:30pm: “Why We Must Protect Biological Diversity”, Tracey MacKenzie, Dalhousie University
7pm: “Diversity of Nature: BIPOC-focused Scientific Outreach”, Suchinta Arif, Dalhousie University and Diversity of Nature
Doctoral candidate Suchinta Arif will introduce Diversity of Nature (DoN), a BIPOC-led and -focused scientific outreach organization, a personal account of how they got started and what they have been able to accomplish in the past two years. This talk will also highlight the importance of having diverse leadership in ecology and the natural sciences and provide tips on how to create inclusive scientific outreach for underrepresented audiences.
7:30pm: “Atlantic Whitefish: Canada’s Most Endangered Fish, Right Here in Nova Scotia!”, Amy Russell, Coastal Action
The Atlantic Whitefish is one of the most endangered and ancient fish species in Canada. The last remaining wild population is believed to reside in only three lakes in a single watershed in southwestern Nova Scotia, making up its global range. Threats such as illegally introduced fish species have played a major role in the decline as well as in impeding the recovery of Atlantic Whitefish populations. To help ensure the survival of the residual population, Coastal Action began the Atlantic Whitefish Recovery Project in 2004 in collaboration with the Atlantic Whitefish Conservation and Recovery Team. Amy will be giving a background on this critically endangered fish and discussing the activities that Coastal Action has been carrying out to help conserve and recover their population.
The Celebration of Nature takes place in the traditional and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people. Colonization and ongoing systemic prejudice against the Mi’kmaq carries important implications for both the people and natural infrastructure we all depend on in the Dawnlands. We encourage Celebration attendees to take one small step towards reconciliation in Mi’kma’ki by learning about the natural and cultural history of your own community. Before you attend your first Celebration talk or field trip, find out what District you are located in at Native-Land.ca and then read one of the Treaties relevant to your area.