Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network

Site Assessment Workshop Held at Bay of Fundy WHSRN Site, Canada

Bay of Fundy WHSRN Site (Nova Scotia portion), southeastern Canada / © Sherman Bleakney

In November 2011, WHSRN Conservation Specialist Meredith Gutowski traveled to southeastern Canada to conduct a workshop with more than a dozen local, provincial, and national partners to evaluate the Bay of Fundy WHSRN Site of Hemispheric Importance from a shorebird perspective. The Canadian Wildlife Service’s Atlantic Region generously hosted the 16-17 November workshop, which was held at its headquarters in Sackville, New Brunswick, and coordinated by regional shorebird biologist Julie Paquet. “This was the first time that this many partners and, in particular, ones representing such a broad spectrum of expertise and perspectives, gathered to discuss the state of the Bay for shorebirds,” reflected Paquet.

The Bay of Fundy, with its vast mudflats and famous 40-foot (or more) tidal extremes, spans the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The WHSRN Site comprises two particular areas of the bay, one in each province, totaling 62,000 hectares (more than 153,000 acres). Shepody Bay (New Brunswick) and Minas Basin (Novia Scotia) were designated in 1987 and 1988, respectively.  These areas provide critical stopover habitats to great numbers of migrating shorebirds—including nearly 70% of the world’s population of Semipalmated Sandpipers (Calidris pusilla).

A diversity of partners worked together to assess the state of the Bay of Fundy WHSRN Site for shorebirds. / © Julie Paquet, CWS

During the two-day workshop, Ms. Gutowski guided the diverse group of land managers, researchers, private landowners, and stewards through the WHSRN Site Assessment Tool. The Excel-based workbook contains a series of assessment questions with either accompanying multiple-choice answers or scores for partners to select through consensus. Often, very rich discussions and debates ensue before reaching said consensus. “These discussions are just as valuable as whichever answer or score the group decides on—perhaps even more so,” said Gutowski. “In this forum, everyone has a voice that is not only heard but contributes to the collective knowledge about a site.”

Through this workshop and a Web-based teleconference thereafter, the group completed the assessment. Partners now have a clearer “snapshot” of the Bay’s current overall health for shorebirds, a prioritized list of known and potential threats, and a shared vision for the conservation actions needed in the near future.

Mary Majka, conservation steward and leader, proudly showed us photos of "her" shorebirds at Mary's Point, New Brunswick. / © Meredith Gutowski

Many thanks to all of the great partners who participated from CWS, Province of New Brunswick, The Nature Conservancy of Canada, researchers from University of New Brunswick and Mount Allison University, landowners/stewards of Mary’s Point, the Fundy Biosphere Reserve, and Nature Trust of New Brunswick.

In addition, we are all looking forward to celebrating the Bay of Fundy’s 25th anniversary as a WHSRN Site, beginning Spring 2012!

For more information, please contact Meredith Gutowski (mgutowski@manomet.org), WHSRN Conservation Specialist, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, or Julie Paquet (Julie.Paquet@EC.GC.CA), Regional Shorebird Biologist, Canadian Wildlife Service.