An exciting Brier Island weekend

Group photo at

Group photo at "Sights and Sounds of Brier Island" event. (Photo by NCC)

September 17, 2015 | by Doug van Hemessen | 0 Comments

Brier Island is one of the farthest reaches of Nova Scotia; two ferry rides away and, like many such islands, ecologically significant and home to a small community sometimes wary of the intentions of outsiders.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) owns a 1,200-acre (485-hectare) reserve on Brier Island, which includes a coastal trail as well as habitat for the eastern mountain avens — an endangered plant with only two known global populations, with Brier being the largest by far.

NCC’s Nova Scotia team is in the third and final year of a multi-partner project to develop a restoration plan for what's known as Big Meadow Bog — key habitat for the avens. The bog was severely degraded through ditching decades ago, in addition to the impact of an extremely high population of nesting gulls.

Community awareness and support for the project is central to its success. To that end the project has included a community engagement piece to genuinely and meaningfully involve the islanders.

The haul from the shore at Pond Cove. (Photo by NCC)

The haul from the shore at Pond Cove. (Photo by NCC)

On the weekend of August 28–29, NCC staff in Nova Scotia carried out the "Sights and Sounds of Brier Island" event with resounding success. This two-day event included an open house and Conservation Volunteers activity.

The open house began on Friday evening with a community BBQ hosted by the local Ladies Auxiliary. Forty-five guests, including community members, Conservation Volunteers and project partners, were given updates about the status of the restoration planning on the island. The evening was an opportunity to engage participants in conversations about their questions, concerns and ideas.

A cape may warbler - uncommon for Nova Scotia. (Photo by NCC)

A cape may warbler - uncommon for Nova Scotia. (Photo by NCC)

Saturday began with a tour of the Brier Island Bird Migration Station; an opportunity for participants to see the banding process and see birds up close and described in detail by the knowledgeable banders. A group of 30 volunteers then set to work performing trail maintenance and a shore cleanup.

Lunch was provided by the island's general store and set out on its oceanside deck. In the afternoon, interested participants embarked on a whale watching tour at a discounted price, provided by one of the several local tourism businesses.

The buzz of such a two-day event makes its way through the community, through their direct involvement or word-of-mouth. Local businesses benefit through the accommodation, food and other needs of the event participants. The community benefits through being informed, engaged and even inspired. The benefits to NCC and our work are obvious.

Another means of community engagement for our work on Brier is a Facebook group page we created called "Conserving Brier Island." It's a social media method to promote and publicize our work there. Many islanders have joined and use it among each other to keep abreast of conservation work in their community. 

Click to expand the photos in the gallery below for a taste of the event!

  • Nick Hill describes the Big Meadow Bog restoration plan. (Photo by NCC)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Nick Hill describes the Big Meadow Bog restoration plan. (Photo by NCC)
  • Kate Shlepr talks about her gull research. (Photo by NCC)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Kate Shlepr talks about her gull research. (Photo by NCC)
  • Amy Buckland-Nicks describing the Big Meadow habitat assessment. (Photo by NCC)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Amy describing the Big Meadow habitat assessment. (Photo by NCC)
  • Conversations with community members about Big Meadow Bog, gulls, Eastern Mountain avens.... (Photo by NCC)
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    Conversations with community members. (Photo by NCC)
  • Lance Laviolette (R) at the Brier Island Bird Migration Station. (Photo by NCC)
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    At the Brier Island Bird Migration Station. (Photo by NCC)
  • Describing the banded birds at the Brier Island Bird Migration Station. (Photo by NCC)
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    Describing banded birds at the bird migration station (Photo by NCC)
  • Getting a nice close look. (Photo by NCC)
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    Getting a nice close look. (Photo by NCC)
  • Eager volunteers at Pond Cove. (Photo by NCC)
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    Eager volunteers at Pond Cove. (Photo by NCC)
  • Pounding in the posts. (Photo by NCC)
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    Pounding in the posts. (Photo by NCC)
  • Pruning back the roses. (Photo by NCC)
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    Pruning back the roses. (Photo by NCC)
  • Picking up trash. (Photo by NCC)
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    Picking up trash. (Photo by NCC)
  • A rewarding lunch on the Westport deck. (Photo by NCC)
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    A rewarding lunch on the Westport deck. (Photo by NCC)
  • Thanks everyone! (Photo by NCC)
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    Thanks everyone! (Photo by NCC)
  • Many of us took in whale watching at day's end. (Photo by NCC)
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    Many of us took in whale watching at day's end. (Photo by NCC)

 

About the Author

Doug van Hemessen is the stewardship coordinator for NCC in Nova Scotia.

Read more about Doug van Hemessen.

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