Federation of British Columbia Naturalists
Our Impact Why We Exist
BC Nature (the Federation of BC Naturalists) represents more than 50 nature clubs and societies throughout the province offering numerous activities from birding trips and wildflower walks to stewardship projects and speakers programs. Our membership of more than 5700 people includes respected naturalists, biologists, academics and other nature enthusiasts and experts.
The overall objective of BC Nature is described in our motto: ‘Know Nature and Keep it Worth Knowing.’ In pursuit of this objective, BC Nature is involved in a number of stewardship and education projects, including Wildlife Tree Stewardship, BC Parks Interpretation, Bird Blitzes, and the Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program.
Our Story What We Do
In pursuit of our objective, "To Know Nature and Keep it Worth Knowing", BC Nature is involved in a number of stewardship and education projects, including Wildlife Tree Stewardship, BC Parks Interpretation, Bird Blitzes, and the Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program.
The Important Bird Areas (IBA) program, established in Canada in 1996, aims to identify, protect and monitor a network of vital habitats for bird and biodiversity conservation around the world. IBAs are identified using standardized criteria developed by BirdLife International, a global alliance of more than 120 conservation organizations. While approximately 25% of the area within BC's network of 84 IBAs is formally protected, many sites are under pressure from anthropogenic or natural events happening within or adjacent to their boundaries.
With national partners Bird Studies Canada (BSC) and Nature Canada, BC Nature is taking a lead role in ensuring the long term conservation of BC’s IBAs. In recognition of the increasingly important role of citizen scientists in the business of conservation, our primary focus since 2006 has been on building and supporting a volunteer-based Caretaker Network. Volunteer Caretakers have been matched with over 85% of our IBAs since 2008. Caretakers act as the “eyes, ears and hands-on-the-ground” for IBAs – observing and documenting changes in bird use, land use and conservation threats, undertaking on-the-ground stewardship activities, and championing conservation of their IBAs.
There are five IBAs in the South Okanagan: Vaseux Lake IBA, White Lake IBA, Osoyoos Oxbows IBA, Kilpoola Lake Area IBA, and Chopaka Customs IBA. These IBAs are all important habitat areas for a number of species at risk in the South Okanagan, one of the highest biodiversity areas in Canada.
Our Programs How We Do It
The Volunteer Caretakers of BC's Important Bird Areas act as the “eyes, ears and hands-on-the-ground” for IBAs. Provincial coordinators have assisted Caretakers with outreach and on–the-ground conservation based activities.
For example, with support from MEC, BC Nature has conducted capacity building and outreach work in several parts of BC to support Caretaker roles, establish partnerships and generate local conservation-based action. BSC, one of our national partners, is currently working on a project funded by the Real Estate Foundation to incorporate language about IBAs into planning guides used by local government and landowners (e.g. Green Bylaws toolkit) and plans/policies for local governments contacted through our MEC outreach project. Nature Canada, Shell Environmental Fund and Canadian Wildlife Federation helped us to develop IBA brochures, posters and signs that have been installed in 28 IBAs across BC.
Through these projects, IBAs have gained increased exposure and integration in conservation efforts and issues (e.g. Globe and Mail article on Feb 28 about Northern Gateway pipeline highlighted IBAs). In addition, we’ve developed standard IBA materials ranging from presentations and signs to language that can be incorporated into websites, proclamations, plans and policies.
Achievements at individual IBAs since 2006 puts us in an ideal position to highlight the success of the program and inspire other similar conservation initiatives across the Caretaker Network.
What You Can Do
BC Nature welcomes all members who wish to share and participate in activities with like-minded people who love nature and who actively support conservation initiatives.
Interested volunteers can learn about the activities and roles of IBA Caretakers on the BC Nature website at www.bcnature.ca/projects/iba , or can get involved by helping an existing Caretaker, or by becoming a Caretaker for a site that still needs a volunteer. For more information, contact the IBA Caretaker Coordinator at iba at bcnature dot ca.