Final Project Report: Scaup Plus: A Wetland Habitat Conservation Initiative 2011-2012 (pdf)
Photo: Scaup habitat on Chatsko conservation easementCredit: Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation
Goals and Objectives
The goal of this project is to assist breeding scaup and to support conservation objectives for other waterfowl species through permanent habitat protection. In Manitoba, the most productive breeding habitat for waterfowl is generally found in the prairie/parkland landscape. Protection of scaup habitat in and adjacent the highest priority landscapes under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan in Manitoba will support scaup and achieve wider NAWMP objectives.
Specific objectives of this project are to:
This proposal will be implemented in the 2011/12 fiscal year. Through the course of this project, MHHC staff will work closely with project partners to identify potential conservation easement projects in areas identified as historic hotspots for scaup. Once project sites have been identified, MHHC staff will conduct initial site assessments, including a baseline documentation report, followed by landowner negotiations and finally the signing of a perpetual conservation easement. Registration of the easement on the land title ensures that protection of habitat is in perpetuity. MHHC will monitor each project site via ground and aerial inspections. Ongoing monitoring provides significant disincentive to the violation of the contract but also enables swift detection of possible violations if they were to occur.
Specific Habitat Products/Results Supported by WHC’s Contributions
In this proposal, WHC funds will be used to support the delivery of 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of wetland and associated upland habitat suitable for scaup within the target area as shown in Section 4.0. These 400 hectares of habitat will be protected through the legal registration of an easement on the land’s title. This easement will be in effect regardless of the current landowner and run in perpetuity; thereby ensuring long-term habitat protection. In addition to the 400 hectares of habitat to be secured within the scaup target landscape, another 365 hectares (900 acres) of wetland and associated uplands will be secured in other regions of Manitoba with high waterfowl productivity. In total, WHC funds will be used to support the delivery of 765 hectares (1,900 acres) of waterfowl habitat in Manitoba.
Specifically, WHC funds will be used to support:
Benefits to Waterfowl, Wetlands-Associated Species, and/or Other Wildlife
The protection of wetlands and the surrounding uplands has benefits to a host of plant and animal species. Wetlands are an integral part of any ecosystem and by protecting these resources we protect people and their pastimes as well. This project has a special focus on scaup because of the recent history of population decline. While changes in wintering habitat quality may be affecting scaup, significant wetland habitat losses in the southern portion of their breeding range have also been documented.
In total, at least 16 species of waterfowl and over 200 species of waterbirds, shorebirds and landbirds will benefit from these wetland conservation activities. A wide array of mammals, reptiles and amphibians will also benefit from habitats conserved through this project. While on a field tour in early September with Hammell in preparation for this proposal, a number of duck species, including ring-necked, redhead, mallard, canvasback, teal and ruddy ducks were observed in the same wetlands as scaup.
Relevance to Habitat Planning, Decision Making and/or Management
Almost 25 years after inception, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan remains a pre-eminent example of inter-jurisdictional management of environmental issues. On the Canadian prairies, NAWMP implementation is governed by provincially-based implementation plans. Works conducted under this proposal are complementary to the Manitoba Implementation Plan (MIP). Retention and restoration of high value habitats are key objectives of the MIP. The MIP has a five year securement goal of 20,000 hectares (49,000 acres) for wetland and upland habitat. Conservation easements delivered as part of this project will be delivered within or adjacent to MIP priority landscapes and will support MIP habitat retention objectives.
Local watershed management groups, known as Conservation Districts, have existed in Manitoba for the past 30 years. Initially established as drainage boards, these entities have now evolved into watershed planning authorities with mandates to protect the water and the natural qualities of their respective watersheds. There are currently 18 such districts in Manitoba. MHHC has made significant efforts to build partnerships with these local boards and assist them in the delivery of their watershed management plans. These plans typically focus on drinking and surface water quality and quantity and the protection of natural areas. By protecting the wetlands through this project, MHHC will be contributing to the overall objectives of the Upper Assiniboine and Little Saskatchewan Conservation District’s watershed plans for the Assiniboine/Birdtail rivers, the Arrow/Oak rivers and the Little Saskatchewan River.
By protecting wetlands, one also achieves improvements to water quality as wetlands act as sinks for nutrients and sediment. Wetlands also serve as water reservoirs for times of drought and storage basins during storm events. Through the protection of wetlands, this project is working towards meeting the goals of the Lake Winnipeg Stewardship Board’s plan to restore the health of Lake Winnipeg. In 2006, the Lake Winnipeg Stewardship Board submitted a plan to the Minister of Water Stewardship outlining ways to reduce nutrient loading to Lake Winnipeg. One of the recommended actions (Recommendation 36.1) was to utilize wetlands as nutrient sinks and to explore innovative options to preserve wetlands and cost sharing scenarios. This proposal fits well within the recommendation of this provincial water authority.
Scaup migrate from the southern United States and the Gulf coasts to breed in prairie/parkland and boreal regions, primarily in western Canada and Alaska. In the prairie/parkland region of southern Manitoba, much of the waterfowl habitat of interest is under private ownership and the primary land use is agriculture. Portions of this region have been defined as target landscapes under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan because of their importance to a wide array breeding waterfowl. A historically important area for scaup in southern Manitoba intersects with the Minnedosa/Shoal Lake NAWMP target landscape. The map (Section 4.0) highlights the intersection of scaup breeding habitat and the NAWMP target landscape. From a continental, all-bird conservation framework perspective, the project area is located in BCR 11, the Prairie Potholes.
Scaup are found over much of North America but not in the abundance they once were. In contrast to most other waterfowl species, scaup populations have not yet stabilized at or near their long-term average levels. To address habitat loss issues, MHHC will focus its securement efforts in the area defined under Section 4.0, a region in and adjacent to the NAWMP Minnedosa/Shoal Lake target landscape. The total size of the project’s target area is 344,700 hectares.
For more information on this project, please contact
Wildlife Habitat Canada 120 Iber Road, Suite 207Ottawa, ON K2S 1E9Telephone: (613) 722-2090Toll-Free: (800) 669-7919Fax: (613) 722-3318
Since 1984, Wildlife Habitat Canada (WHC) has helped deliver habitat conservation projects on all land and seascapes and all provinces and territories in Canada. These projects have helped to safeguard important ecosystems and countless wild species. Click here to find out how you can help Wildlife Habitat Canada continue to make a difference.