Canadian Wetlands Tracking Project Tests Cross-Border Conservation Strategies

Birds don’t bother with passports.

But you can’t blame them, as they have no knowledge of the border between breeding Canadian habitat and their U.S. wintering habitat, nor do they realize how much work is being done in these two countries to ensure that these habitats are conserved. But now, in the Intermountain West region, that work is going to be shared with greater potential for coordination to benefit birds.

The Canadian Intermountain Joint Venture (CIJV) was created in 2003 and encompasses much of the same habitat type as its U.S. neighbor, the Intermountain West Joint Venture (IWJV). Both Joint Ventures (JVs) have a plethora of grasslands, wetlands, forested areas and mountains that create diverse habitats for many bird species. Both JVs were created to implement the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) and both are focused on all birds. Yet until recently there has been limited collaboration between the two groups.

This past winter, the CIJV and IWJV initiated a joint project that will increase collaboration and strengthen conservation actions across the border. The first issue to be tackled is wetlands.

In a recent Implementation Plan, the CIJV identified the lack of wetland habitat tracking as a serious deficiency in conserving wetlands, especially as it relates to conservation planning in a changing climate. Despite having several recent snapshots of wetlands distribution, the CIJV’s conservation community has few assessments of historic wetlands occurrence and cannot meaningfully track future trends. The CIJV, with the support of the IWJV, secured $50,000 from the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative to track wetlands changes over time in a pilot area in the CIJV. If the proposed methods are successful, they will be replicated throughout both JVs and will provide an essential tool for setting conservation priorities, creating best practices, creating and applying policy tools, predicting climate change impacts on priority bird species, and further developing the joint ventures’ science foundation.

This new CIJV/IWJV collaboration fulfills the desire of both the North American Waterfowl Management Plan Committee and Partners In Flight to see Joint Ventures develop improved collaboration and coordination of biological planning and conservation delivery across broad regions so that conservation objectives may be achieved at a meaningful scale.

Consequently, the IWJV and CIJV plan to collaborate more frequently on shared conservation priorities. With similar ecological characteristics and many shared priority species, partnering on habitat conservation will increase efficiency, knowledge and success between the two JVs.

And our border-hopping migrants should reap the benefits.


Tasha Sargent is the Coordinator of the Canadian Intermountain Joint Venture and works for the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada in Vancouver, British Columbia.