Conserving water for wildlife

Aerial view of Foxner Nature Reserve, NB (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

Aerial view of Foxner Nature Reserve, NB (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

For the first time, all the rivers and streams in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, and eastern Quebec have been mapped (along with those that feed into New Brunswick and Quebec from the northern U.S.) and the information is being made available to the public online.

The Freshwater Conservation Blueprint, a project created and led by conservation staff from the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Atlantic Region, provides assessments of the health of rivers and streams, with the goal of improved conservation throughout the region, and across borders.

The Freshwater Conservation Blueprint will enable better planning and conservation across watersheds, provinces and even between Canada and the U.S. Until now, freshwater conservation efforts that crossed provincial or national borders had been hampered by incomplete or incompatible information.

The first of its kind, the project includes information about rivers and streams that will help ensure the protection of vulnerable habitats and the species that live there. The research behind this project helps to classify different stream and river ecosystems (size, temperature, alkalinity, etc.) in these areas. It is a “connectivity tool” that helps prioritize where blocked culverts and obsolete dams can be removed or restored to benefit fish and other aquatic wildlife. It also can be used to help identify any stressors on a waterbody that can negatively impact freshwater health.

According to Josh Noseworthy, director of science for NCC’s Atlantic Region, this project can assist municipal and provincial planners, watershed organizations and anyone else working to protect habitat for fish and other aquatic wildlife. It is his hope that the information available in this project will be widely used as conservationists consider how climate change and other threats might impact streams and rivers in the future.

This project was three years in the making and was made possible by the input and support from more than 80 organizations. They include Environment and Climate Change Canada, North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Trottier Family Foundation and Salamander Foundation.  

Explore the Freshwater Conservation Blueprint, here.

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