Select Page

Chelsea Aristone, KBA Technician, Molly Bradford, KBA Technician, & Mercy Harris, KBA Technician

In October 2022, Birds Canada, in collaboration with WCS Canada and NatureServe Canada, began an effort to identify sites across Canada that are critical to the persistence of biodiversity, known as Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs). The KBA Program applies internationally established criteria to recognize places necessary for the persistence of biodiversity.  KBAs are an information tool that can inform land use decisions and conservation goals, and preserve ecosystems and the species that depend on them. Birds Canada is leading the ongoing work to identify which existing Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) will meet the criteria to become KBAs. In the past year and a half, great progress has been made in identifying and assessing sites, as outlined in the 2023 Annual Report. This work would not be possible without the hard work and support of IBA Coordinators, volunteer Caretakers, and local experts across Canada.

This month marks the launch of several new KBAs championed by Birds Canada, stretching from Newfoundland to British Columbia. Below, we highlight three of these sites, and some of the important conservation work happening at them. 

The beaches near the communities of Roseway to Baccaro support breeding Piping Plovers, a nationally Endangered species. This small loveable shorebird is estimated to have declined 23% in Atlantic Canada since the early 2000s, due to factors such as human disturbance and degradation of the sandy and gravelly beaches they use to nest. Despite this decline, Piping Plovers still reliably nest in southeastern Nova Scotia. This area supports almost 25% of the Nova Scotia Piping Plover breeding population, and as such, was a solid candidate for KBA status.

“This KBA includes some of the most wild, beautiful coastal ecosystems, bogs and heathlands in Nova Scotia,” says Sue Abbott, the Associate Director of Nova Scotia Programs who oversees Birds Canada’s Piping Plover programs. Birds Canada has been actively promoting Piping Plover conservation in this area, with Abbott reporting that Birds Canada volunteers have spent 1,295 hours monitoring and stewarding beaches in this KBA since 2006. While these efforts have helped Piping Plovers, Abbott explains that threats remain, including vehicle use on dunes and beaches which can disturb birds or crush nests. “In this and other KBAs in Nova Scotia, [increased] coastal protection regulations are needed.”

The Roseway to Baccaro area supports almost 25% of the Nova Scotia Piping Plover breeding population. Photo: Missy Mandel
Nestled in the Rocky Mountain Trench of southeastern British Columbia, is the Skookumchuck Prairie where you will find a wide range of habitats including lakes, open pine forests, and areas of native grassland that provide critical habitat for many species.
This site holds what is likely the densest breeding population of the nationally Threatened Lewis’ Woodpecker in Canada. It is also home to a population of Long-billed Curlew whose calls can be heard “echoing off the mountains in the crisp spring morning, or subtly piercing the hot afternoon breeze rising off the waving grass stems” says Dianne Cooper, the volunteer caretaker of this site.

In addition to its importance for birds, residents living within the Skookumchuck Prairie KBA have a deep sense of appreciation for these lands. Locals have played a critical role in leading stewardship and conservation efforts here, with restoration efforts including tree removal and prescribed burning dating back to the mid-1980s. 

Skookumchuck Prairie is home to a population of Long-billed Curlew. Photo: David Bradley
Most recently they have led a fight to protect this irreplaceable rangeland and grassland from proposed solar development. Despite these efforts, Cooper also highlights the need for increased legal protection for the KBA, policies that regulate industrial development, treatment of invasive plant species, and scientific inventories in restored areas to help preserve this site which is beloved by both humans and wildlife.
Machias Seal Island supports 8,500 pairs of Atlantic Puffins. Photo: Jared Clarke
Machias Seal Island is home to the most important seabird colony in the Bay of Fundy and hosts the only regularly occurring colony of Atlantic Puffins in New Brunswick. Based on the most recent 2019 survey, this island supports 8,500 pairs of Atlantic Puffins and 3,700 pairs of Razorbills, which make up 4.47% and 9.74% of these species’ continental populations, respectively. Seabird nesting has been studied at this site since the 1930s, with active monitoring ongoing since 1995.
Tony Diamond, Emeritus Professor of Wildlife Ecology at the University of New Brunswick, explains some of the ongoing and needed conservation actions for the island: “Protection and management as a Migratory Bird Sanctuary are carried out by the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS), primarily through limiting numbers of visitors and regulating research. Limited control of predation by gulls, under licence, has proved essential to maintain the small colony of Arctic and Common Terns. Reduction of bait discards from lobster boats would also mitigate the problem of predation by gulls.”
Birds Canada is still actively researching and nominating IBAs to become KBAs, so visit the map of approved sites every few months to view recently added KBAs. You can also check if a site of interest is in progress by clicking on the Candidate layer at the bottom right of the same page. For more information about KBAs visit the KBA Canada website or contact Amanda Bichel (

Stay in touch with Birds Canada

Copy link
Powered by Social Snap