By Ellen Jakubowski, Communications Specialist, Bird Studies Canada
“Working Landscapes” was the theme of the 12th Prairie Conservation and Endangered Species Conference held in Winnipeg, Manitoba from February 19-21, 2019. Attendees from a range of sectors – scientists, agricultural producers, consultants, and more – had the opportunity to explore the intersections of conservation and agriculture, have their perspectives heard, and work together on conservation solutions.
“Echoed in the theme ‘working landscapes’, the conference showcased strong cooperation between the conservation and agriculture sectors,” said Dr. Christian Artuso (Director, Manitoba, Bird Studies Canada).
Topping the list of highlights reported by the Bird Studies Canada staff who attended was the opportunity to hear directly from cattle producers about how they are managing grazing to preserve grassland habitat for birds and other wildlife. Another theme that sparked synergies across diverse sectors was “alternatives in agriculture,” which wove together such topics as pesticide-effects on birds, native bees in agricultural margins, beneficial insects in cropping, and soil health in the context of cattle and bison ranching.
An important moment that showcased this spirit of cooperation was the announcement of a new Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (or IBA). The new IBA comprises the Ellice-Archie and Spy Hill-Ellice community pastures stretching across the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border: a large stretch of intact native prairie that provides habitat for grassland birds at risk such as the Sprague’s Pipit and Chestnut-collared Longspur. It is a working landscape where cattle are grazed using methods that maintain the native prairie habitat to the benefit of birds. The announcement of the IBA’s designation by Bird Studies Canada, Nature Saskatchewan, and Nature Manitoba attracted some media spotlight, drawing more much-needed attention to this significant area.
Many presenters at the conference mentioned results from Breeding Bird Atlases during their talks, attesting to the value and range of applications of these resources on bird abundance and distribution.
“I found it really motivating to see the results from the Manitoba Atlas referenced several times,” reported LeeAnn Latremouille (Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas Coordinator, Bird Studies Canada).
The team leading the coordination of the first Saskatchewan Atlas, currently in its third of five years of data collection, made several useful connections during its poster session. This could help to fill gaps in bird survey coverage in the province.
Bird Studies Canada was proud to be involved in this successful event. Our Director in Manitoba, Dr. Christian Artuso, chaired the conference’s Program Committee. He observed that “Prairie conservation can be a depressing theme, but we received lots of feedback that the conference turned this around into something inspirational.” A total of six Bird Studies Canada staff were in attendance to present talks and posters and build connections. Bird Studies Canada was also a bronze sponsor of the conference.
Thank you to all who met with us at the conference and continue to work together on prairie conservation!
You can visit the links below or search the hashtag #PCESC19 on social media to see more coverage related to the Prairie Conservation and Endangered Species Conference.