May 22, 2019 — (Tofino, B.C.) — In celebration of the United Nations (UN) International Day for Biodiversity 2019, the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust is excited to announce recipients of the 2019 CBT Biosphere Research Award, which supports research that addresses: (1) key ecosystem threats; and (2) conservation action within the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region. Raincoast Education Society (RES) and partnering organizations – Parks Canada Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and Environment and Climate Change Canada, who have received $20,000 for their project: Residency and Habitat Use of Migrating Shorebirds in Tofino BC.
Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, says, “On this International Day for Biological Diversity, we know that global biodiversity is facing threats like never before, and we need to act now to conserve our nature. We are proud to work with Parks Canada and the Raincoast Education Society on this important research project for migratory shorebirds, and sincerely congratulate Raincoast Education Society on winning the 2019 Clayoquot Biosphere Trust Research Award. By working together to double the amount of nature we protect, we can make a real difference for nature in Canada.”
UN International Day for Biodiversity highlights why having a rich variety of species (and maintaining the habitats where they are found) is necessary for human health and prosperity. The Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region (CSBR) is recognized by the United Nations as a special place for celebrating and maintaining biodiversity, a place where local residents are lucky to live and take care of the rich ecosystems here. It is a place where community leaders, researchers, and residents study and talk about interactions between social and ecological systems with the goal of helping our intertwined communities and ecosystems thrive!
The award-winning RES research project (which is currently underway during the Spring shorebird migration) aims to document migratory shorebird residency and habitats in the Tofino area using VHF radio transmitters to track movement patterns of individual birds. A team of bird ecologists is working around-the-clock to trap and deploy VHF radio tags on approximately 50 Western Sandpipers, 20 Dunlin, 15 Sanderling and 15 Semipalmated Plovers. These four common species typically feed intensively over a few days during their southern migration and are vulnerable to human disturbance. Data from this research will help answer key questions such as: How long do shorebirds stay during their migration? What specific habitats do they prefer? Is human disturbance interfering with their feeding patterns?
“We’re very fortunate to have high-calibre researchers in our local community who actively contribute to biodiversity conservation within the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region”, says Dr Laura Loucks, Research Director of the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust. “The results of this research are particularly important to understand the impact of human disturbance on sensitive ecosystems and migratory bird populations within the Tofino Mudflats Wildlife Management Area – an integral component of the network of estuarine habitats reflected in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation”.
Mark Maftei, Executive Director of the Raincoast Education Society, says “We’re seeing an abundance of migratory shorebirds here because we still have relatively large areas of intact wetlands and ocean shoreline ecosystems. However, we need to take more responsibility for habitat protection. I don’t want to look back twenty years from now and ask myself why didn’t we do anything to make the necessary policy changes within the designated Tofino Wah-nah-jus Hilth-hoo-is Mudflats Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. We’re so fortunate that we can act now and really have a good chance at conserving biodiversity. For many other places around the world – it’s too late”.
Photos: Raincoast Education Society, Tofino Photography, Clayoquot Biosphere Trust