Friday 15 December 2017

Part 1 - Wetlands against Climate Change: Defining times, the new Climate Change Terminology

 Ten years since the United Nations Climate Change Conference, most of the world agrees that climate change is real. Climate change scientists are no longer asking “is this happening”, they are asking “was this weather event worse because of climate change, and is there a way we can mitigate and adapt so that the effects are less overwhelming”. But what does that look like? And how are wetlands involved?

Welcome to the first installment of the SAM blog series, Wetlands against Climate Change: how wetlands contribute to mitigation and adaptation.

Humans have contributed to climate change by increasing the rate of CO2 and other greenhouse gases that have entered the atmosphere over the past century. Turn on the news any night of the week and we can see the effects of climate change.  Wildfires burning large areas of forests, hurricanes taking out whole islands, and wildlife being pushed to survive in quickly changing ecosystems are just a few examples. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) even if we stopped all greenhouse gases from entering our atmosphere today, climate change is going to continue to affect us and future generations.

In the face of these extreme, and ever more common events, climate change scientists and policy makers have been tossing around the terms Mitigation and Adaptation. But what do these words mean when you are talking about climate change? What do they mean for your community? And how do wetland ecosystems play a role?

Before we answer all these questions, let’s start at the beginning by arming ourselves with a full understanding of the terms Mitigation and Adaptation.

Mitigation is defined as reducing emissions and stabilizing the levels of greenhouse gases we allow into the atmosphere. Some examples listed by the IPCC are using more fuel-efficient and hybrid electric vehicles, creating limits on emissions for industry, using renewable energy resources like solar and wind power, reducing deforestation, and the restoration of peat soils (Wetlands!) . Over the past 30 years total greenhouse gas emissions have steadily risen. Mitigation would mean reducing those emissions and in turn reducing global temperature rise. Take a look at the graph by Sophie Lewis, Climate Scientist (Graph Taken from Sophie Lewis Twitter @aviandelights). The graph illustrates two scenarios (with and without mitigation efforts), and how climate change might affect future generations.

Adaptation, according to The Federation of Canadian Municipalities, refers to “any modification in a system or process established by communities in order to address uncertainties related to climate change”. Examples of adaptation include using water resources more efficiently, adapting building codes to withstand severe weather events, developing food crops that are drought resistant, and the creation of wetlands as a buffer against sea level rise and flooding (Wetlands again! see the picture below). Adapting to climate change must involve people from a diverse array of backgrounds and expertise, including engineers, health professionals, farmers, city planners, political leaders, and policy makers.   

Climate change scientists have agreed that we need to take action! One key, and sometimes overlooked, area for mitigation and adaptation are wetlands. Join us for our next Wetlands against Climate Change blog post “Perfectly Peaty: how peat moss is an amazing carbon sink!

Graph Taken from Sophie Lewis Twitter @aviandelights


Thursday 7 December 2017

SAM Newsletter #13 Fall 2017

Stewardship Smiles! Congratulations to both The Town of Centreville-Wareham-Trinity and The Town of Pouch Cove for signing their Habitat Stewardship Agreements this November. (L to R: Deputy Mayor Lloyd Pickett, MHA Derek Bragg, Councillor Sam Gibbons, Mayor Jodey Wall, MHA Kevin Parsons,
The Honourable Gerry Byrne)

Twice as Nice: CWT and Pouch Cove Sign Habitat Stewardship Agreements 

On November 17th of 2017, The Town of Centreville-Wareham-Trinity became the 40th municipality to sign a Municipal Habitat Stewardship Agreement. Present for the signing was Deputy Mayor Lloyd Pickett, and all of the CWT Councillors including Sam Gibbons, who will be the SAM representative on council. MHA Derek Bragg was in attendance for the Province. The town hopes to support a new environment committee to work on some future stewardship projects including the walking trail at Black's Brook. The agreement designates 3 Management Units that encompass over 5000 acres!

Three days later on November 20th, The Town of Pouch Cove became the 41st municipality of SAM when they signed their Habitat Stewardship Agreement. In attendance were Town of Pouch Cove staff members, Mayor Jodey Wall, and The Honorable Gerry Byrne. Also in attendance, and showing their Killick Coast support, were staff members from the SAM Communities of Torbay and Flatrock. Pouch Cove has designated 6 Management Units including excellent seabird nesting habitat and habitat for the endangered Red Crossbill. We are looking forward to seeing how Stewardship can be supported among the Killick Coast SAM Communities! 

SAM Network News & Updates

Educational Outreach: Bonavista Restoration Project NWCF
Thanks in part to financial support from the National Wetland Conservation Fund (NWCF), the Town of Bonavista with support from SAM Staff, was able to host an Educational Outreach Event for Matthew Elementary's Grade 4 classes. The day started in the classroom where the students learned about the 5 different types of wetlands and played games including "Wetland Values" and everyone's favorite "Name that Duck".   
After lunch we were joined on the O'Dea's Pond boardwalk by Mayor John Norman, who we are proud to say is also our very own SAM President! Mayor Norman let us know the town is restoring the wetland conditions that were compromised by the fishing industry many years ago. By creating Nesting Islands (pictured above) ducks and shore birds can find refuge from native and introduced predators. Thank you to Matthew ElementaryGrade 4 classes for a great day!       
The Wheels on the Bus: SAM Outreach Tour 2017!
This November The SAM Outreach Team was able to visit 4 SAM Communities, 5 Management Units (MU), Lead an Educational Event, and participate in a Habitat Stewardship Agreement Signing! First on the Tour was The Town of Whitbourne. Signed in 1993, Whitbourne has a long history of stewardship and is home to many interesting lichens. Just a short drive up the road we visited The Town of Come-by-Chance. Signed in 1995, CBC's MU is a beautiful estuary and a bird watchers dream! After visiting with these SAM communities we felt inspired for our next stop, the Town of Bonavista. Signed in 2013, the town recently received a National Wetland Conservation Fund Grant for a wetland restoration project. Last, but not least, we traveled to The Town of Centreville-Wareham-Trinity for their Habitat Stewardship Agreement Signing! It was a great tour and we are excited to hear from all of our SAM communities in 2018 at the Spring AGM! 
Winter Stewardship: Activity and Event Ideas for YOUR Community!
Keep your stewardship spirit high all winter with these activity and event ideas for your community!

- Check your Nest Boxes or hold a Nest Box workshop: Winter is the perfect time to check and install boxes without damaging habitat or disturbing waterfowl.

- Plan a snowshoeing event on your trail system: Hot chocolate, boil ups, and scavenger hunts are all great ways to get your community out and enjoying their Management Units in the winter months.

- Become a animal track expert: Partner with your local school or community group and learn more about tracking animals in the winter!

-  Participate in the Audubon's 118th Christmas Bird Count: If there isn't an official bird count in your area... start your own in and around your Management Units! You can upload your images and identifications to

-Plan to attend the SAM Spring AGM to be held in Stephenville Crossing! Select a Councillor, staff member or interested resident to attend, and watch for your emailed invite and registration forms in April of 2018!
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Friday 27 October 2017

SAM Newsletter #12 Fall 2017

Lewisporte signs Municipal Habitat Stewardship Agreement! Pictured above From left, standing, Betty Clarke, mayor-elect; Derek Bennett, MHA, Lewisporte-Twillingate; Brian Sceviour, outgoing mayor, (seated) and the Honourable Gerry Byrne, Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources, signed a Municipal Habitat Stewardship Agreement today in Lewisporte that will help protect valuable wetland and coastal habitats located in the community.

Lewisporte signs Stewardship Agreement

In September of 2017, The Town of Lewisporte became the newest member to sign a Municipal Habitat Stewardship Agreement. Outgoing Mayor, Brian Sceviour, was on hand to sign the agreement with Minister Gerry Byrne. MHA, Derek Bennett and incoming Mayor, Betty Clarke were also in attendance to witness the signing of the agreement. After a light lunch the Minister Byrne, MHA Bennett, and Mayor Sceviour addressed the attendees and spoke of the importance of habitat and wildlife stewardship in the province. The area protected by the agreement includes the Bottom Brook Estuary, an area known for excellent waterfowl and shorebird habitat. Currently the estuary has an existing trail system which is very popular with residents. The Town plans to expand the trail system with more interpretative signage in partnership with Ducks Unlimited Canada. SAM extends a warm welcome to the Town of Lewisporte as the newest SAM Community Member!

SAM Network: News and Updates

  • SAM would like to welcome Diane Pelley, in the position of SAM Outreach Coordinator, a shared position with Ducks Unlimited Canada. Diane is a native of Corner Brook and a graduate of Memorial University's Environmental Science Masters Program. She has also worked with many environmental non-profits in the Province. We would also like to say Thank You to Emma Bocking for all her work with SAM in the role of SAM Outreach Coordinator. Emma is currently fulfilling a parental leave contract with Ducks Unlimited Canada. 
  • Get your binoculars ready and visit for a new addition to our Community Profile pages, "Wildlife Watching". Choose your community and find the eBird hotspot closest to you!  
Fall Meeting Oct 20th - 21st: Grand Falls-Windsor
We would like to thank The Town of Grand Falls-Windsor for hosting the Fall SAM Meeting on October 20th and 21st. The meeting was held in the new Corduroy Brook Enhancement Association (CBEA) building at 2 Conservation Place. In attendance were representatives of 18 SAM Communities and several associated EHJV partners. There were many new faces at the meeting that brought a new inquisitive energy to the group! Round table discussions included topics such as the "Ban the Bag" movement and the "Tidy Towns" initiative. Attendees were also invited to take a interpretative walk on the CBEA's trail system with our guide Barry Manuel, Executive Director of the CBEA and the Mayor of The Town of Grand Falls - Windsor
20 Years of Stewardship:

In October 1997, the Town of Carmanvillesigned their Habitat Stewardship Agreement protecting 2,492 acres of habitat in their community including Carmanville Pond, Middle Arm, and Cynthia Pond. Over the past 20 years Carmanville has been a champion of stewardship in the province.  The Carmanville Habitat Committee was formed from a group of hardworking volunteers, and they currently operate the Carmanville Wetland Nature Trails and Interpretation Center. (pictured below). Congratulations on 20 years of stewardship and here is to many more years of amazing stewardship initiatives! 
Turning over a New (Fall Meeting) Leaf: SAM Executive Members are Up to the Task! 
This Fall Meeting saw Linda Bailet finish her 2 year term as SAM President and Tony Chubbs finish his 2 year term as Vice President. Linda has been working with SAM via The Town of Carmanville for over 20 years and Tony has been a champion for stewardship in his community of Happy Valley Goose Bay. Both Linda and Tony will be missed on the SAM Executive but we wish them luck in the future and are sure they will advocate for stewardship in the years to come. John Norman has moved from the position of Secretary to SAM President. John is currently the Mayor of The Town of Bonavista and is dedicated to enhancement and educational projects in the town. The SAM executive team welcomes both Kathleen Blanchard in the role of Vice President and Pat Woodford in the role of Secretary. Rounding out the team is Cynthia Downey of the Town of Stephenville Crossing in her second term as Treasurer for SAM. To learn more about our executive visit the website at

Thursday 29 June 2017

Making Childhood Green Again: Project Webfoot Wrap Up 2017

This is a guest post from DUC summer student Sarah Wilkins.

When a community takes the step to sign a municipal habitat stewardship agreement, it ensures that the next generation will have a healthy environment to enjoy, whether it be a walking trail, a fishing hole, a favourite berry picking spot, a community garden, or an outdoor classroom.
Critter dipping in Plum Point with students from Flower's Cove.
Having green spaces where children can learn and play is vital to their development and overall health. Kids who play outdoors are more physically active, more creative, less aggressive, show better concentration, and are more likely to be environmentally conscious adults. The National Wildlife Federation states that the most direct route to caring for the environment as an adult is participating in “wild nature activities” before the age of 11. Combining the outdoors with education for students is the number one mission of Project Webfoot.

In the last month, I have had the pleasure of meeting children across the province by delivering Project Webfoot field trips everywhere from St. Mary’s on the Avalon peninsula to Corner Brook on the west coast of the island. Project Webfoot is Ducks Unlimited Canada’s elementary school program which links specifically to the grade 4 curriculum. Field trips and in-class resources focus on the value of wetland habitat for both wildlife and people.
Plum Point.

In June 2017, Project Webfoot field trips were delivered by DUC staff to grade 4 students from four SAM member municipalities: Flower's Cove, Hawke's Bay, Deer Lake and Springdale. In addition, partner organizations delivered the program in Happy Valley - Goose Bay (for the first year ever, thanks to  Healthy Waters Labrador!), Grand Falls - Windsor (delivered by Corduroy Brook Enhancement Association), St. John's (delivered at the Fluvarium) and Indian Bay (delivered by staff at the Indian Bay Ecosystem Corporation). The field trip program incorporates outdoor learning by showing kids how to use binoculars and a spotting scope, how to identify male and female birds, as well as finding and identifying the aquatic invertebrates that many birds call their lunch! Games are geared to teach children what a wetland is, how to differentiate the several types of wetlands in Newfoundland and Labrador, and the many values wetlands offer people, wildlife, and the environment.
Critter dipping at Corner Brook marsh.
Explaining a game in Corner Brook.
While leading these field trips, it is exciting to experience the students' enthusiasm to be outside, “spying” on birds or practicing bird songs, and it is inspiring to see their eagerness to share their knowledge on exoskeletons, plant adaptations, food chains, and animal camouflage. Witnessing their compassion for the environment and concern for habitat and associated population loss is always the highlight of each field trip for me, along with their unrestrained enthusiasm for learning new things, finding bugs in the waters they often walk by each day, and being able to identify those bugs and learn about their life cycles.

If you are interested in a wetland-themed presentation for a summer camp or a Girl Guide/Scout group in your area or have any other questions about Project Webfoot and Ducks Unlimited Canada, please contact Danielle, Emma or Sarah at the DUC office in St. John's at or 709-237-DUCK (3825).

Corner Brook Marsh.

Tuesday 2 May 2017

February and March SAM Community Updates

Blast Hole Pond Management Unit in Portugal Cove St. Philip's

Municipal Stewardship By the Numbers

Here at the Stewardship Association of Municipalities we have been working hard on updating our maps of Management Units across the province. With the signing of agreements in Indian Bay and New-Wes-Valley, we’ve now reached over 41 000 acres (over 16 700 hectares) of protected wildlife habitat! Great things can be accomplished when we work together and we’re proud to have worked with so many of you in achieving this impressive result. Continue reading on our blog to learn more fun facts that we discovered while mapping management areas this winter.

SAM Network News & Updates

  • Save the date for the upcoming SAM AGM in Torbay on June 2-3. Invitees will be notified by email this week. Please register by Friday, May 19.
Nest Boxes: Carmanville
SAM and Ducks Unlimited Canada staff partnered with the Carmanville Habitat Committee to install 8 nest boxes for cavity nesting ducks around Carmanville pond. Many of the boxes will be clearly visible from the pond's popular nature trail, and will provide excellent educational opportunities for staff and visitors to the Wetland Interpretation Centre.
20 Years of Stewardship: Torbay
The Town of Torbay celebrated an important milestone in March: 20 years since they signed their municipal habitat stewardship agreement! Since then, they have proven themselves a leader in stewardship, by increasing the amount of land protected as management units in 2015, and hosting several SAM meetings (including the next AGM). Congratulations!
Environment Fair: Portugal Cove - St. Philip's
SAM staff participated in the 2nd annual PC-SP Environment Fair on Earth Day (April 22). Attendees were able to find out about local environmental projects and volunteer opportunities, and were given the opportunity to mark areas of environmental concern on a map of the municipality. Organizers estimate that about 200 people attended.