Photo: habitat restoration at Blackie Spit, Surrey, British Columbia © M. Cuthbert
Habitat restoration at Blackie Spit, Surrey, British Columbia

Community-based stewardship

Stewardship initiatives led by communities or individuals are one of the most promising areas of stewardship with great potential for expansion.20 Grassroots stewardship projects inspired by local watershed and landscape issues work to protect and conserve biodiversity. The total number of community-led initiatives in Canada is not known.

Linking Traditional Knowledge and science: Nunavut Coastal Resource Inventory

Locator map of Igloolik, Nunavut. Click for graphic description (new window).

Knowledge co-produced by holders of Traditional Knowledge and scientists forms the basis of many northern resource management and stewardship initiatives.21-23 Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit Traditional Knowledge), for example, is based on many generations of experience and understanding of ecosystems and local conditions in the North and brings that perspective to stewardship initiatives. The Igloolik pilot project of the Nunavut Coastal Resource Inventory, a collaborative coastal monitoring program of the Government of Nunavut, the Nunavut Research Institute, and the Igloolik Hunters and Trappers Organization, initiated in 2007, used both community elders’ knowledge and science to produce a database, including maps of mammal migration routes and a wealth of information on use of coastal locations by marine mammals. The information is available to all partners in the inventory and serves as a model for future collaborative work in other communities. The inventories can be used, for example, in the development of sustainable fisheries, coastal management plans, environmental impact assessments, sensitivity mapping, community planning, development of coastal parks, and as a means to preserve local ecological knowledge.24

Protecting eider ducks through community stewardship, Labrador

Locator map of St. Peter’s Bay, Labrador. Click for graphic description (new window).

Many coastal communities have a long history of settlement and use of coastal resources. The residents around St. Peter’s Bay, Labrador, provide a good example of coastal community-based stewardship. Small islands provide critical nesting habitat for common eiders and reducing disturbance and predation during nesting is essential to their survival. St. Peter’s Bay residents have been installing and maintaining nest shelters since 2003 to protect the nests and young, and educating their communities on good stewardship practices.25 In 2009, recognizing the importance of the bay for up to 650 common eider nesting pairs,25three communities took their stewardship commitment one step further by signing a Coastal Stewardship Agreement with the provincial government to ensure the long-term sustainability of the eider population by conserving approximately 38 km2 of habitat.

Photo: common eider © Leslie Hamel Photo: community members installing eider shelters © Jason Foster

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