WCS Canada

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Community Based Monitoring in a Changing Northern Ontario
Summary of Thunder Bay Workshop
Joint Letter – BC Government - Provincial Caribou Recovery Program Discussion paper – June 2018
Comments prepared by WCS Canada’s Justina Ray and Chris Johnson (University of Northern British Columbia) to BC’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development on the Provincial Caribou Recovery Program Discussion Paper
WCS Canada submission to the Government of Canada regarding the Projects List under the new Impact Assessment Act - June 2018
We provide comments on the Consultation Paper on Approach to Revising the Project List under the proposed Impact Assessment Act (Bill C-69), which seeks feedback on the criteria and process for reviewing and updating the Projects List, or what type of projects would be subject to impact assessment under the proposed Impact Assessment Act.
Vessel traffic in the Canadian Arctic Management solutions for minimizing impacts on whales in a changing northern region
First description of a glass sponge reef soundscape reveals fish calls and elevated sound pressure levels
Assessing the Potential Cumulative Impacts of Land Use and Climate Change on Freshwater Fish in Northern Ontario
The subarctic boreal landscape of northern Ontario is of global importance thanks to the ecological intactness of terrestrial and freshwater systems spanning an area larger than California. This region also contains some of the largest undammed rivers remaining in the world, thousands of lakes and the largest wetland complex in North America. The region’s diverse freshwater ecosystems support at least 50 species of freshwater fish, making this home to the largest area of high fish biodiversity with low human impacts within Canada. Healthy aquatic systems in Northern Ontario are important to First Nations and these systems also offer important ecological and social services to other Ontarians including climate regulation and recreational fishing. This region is also rich in natural resource potential including minerals and extensive hydroelectric potential. This study addresses a gap in current piecemeal planning efforts and considers the cumulative impacts of new land use and climate change on four freshwater fish species: walleye, lake sturgeon, lake whitefish, and brook trout across an area of 440,000 square kilometres. We apply land use and climate change scenarios within the ALCES Online toolkit to examine the impacts of these scenarios on expert-derived models for fish sustainability.
Watching, Listening, and Learning to Understand Change - Developing a Community-Based Monitoring (CBM) Initiative in Ontario's Far North
Ontario’s Far North is one of the world’s largest most intact expanses of boreal forest and wetlands. The region has almost no industrial development today. Far from being a frontier for new mines, all-weather roads, and transmission, the region is the homeland of Cree and Ojibway Indigenous peoples. They rely on the land, freshwater, air, fish and wildlife for traditional economies and cultural and spiritual values. They are also engaged in environmental planning for new industrial development and climate change. As such, impacts of climate change and development decisions on communities and their traditional territories, must be monitored. Our report develops the rationale for the design and implementation of a community-based monitoring approach in Ontario’s Far North and looks at examples from across Canada and around the world in order to support First Nations in their roles and responsibilities in taking care of the land, water, fish, and wildlife.
Bighorn backcountry of Alberta, Protecting vulnerable wildlife and precious waters
A scientific analysis that identified a conservation gem nestled beside the two crown jewels of the Rocky Mountain national park system. The area, known as the Bighorn Backcountry, lies just east of Banff and Jasper National Parks in Alberta and represents one of the most ecologically important areas in the province’s Eastern Slopes region. Based on findings about the importance of this region to wildlife, clean water and recreation, WCS Canada is calling on the Alberta Government to designate the area as a Provincial Wildland Park in keeping with its recent commitment to conserve at least 17 percent of the province’s land base.
Potential impacts of shipping noise on marine mammals in the western Canadian Arctic
As the Arctic warms and sea ice decreases, increased shipping will lead to higher ambient noise levels in the Arctic Ocean. Arctic marine mammals are vulnerable to increased noise because they use sound to survive and likely evolved in a relatively quiet soundscape. This study models vessel noise propagation in the proposed western Canadian Arctic shipping corridor in order to examine impacts on marine mammals and marine protected areas (MPAs).
An alternative minimally invasive technique for genetic sampling of bats- Wing swabs yield species identification
Bat species are traditionally identified morphologically, but in some cases, species can be difficult to differentiate. Wing punches (biopsies) of wing or tail membranes are commonly used to collect tissue for DNA analysis, but less invasive techniques are preferable. As such, DNA acquired using buccal and wing swabs or from fecal pellets are increasingly being employed. This study compared a dry swabbing technique with the wing biopsy technique for DNA collection. They compared species identification between tissue biopsies and wing swabs collected from bats in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, between April and November, 2014, and September and October 2015. Species identification was achieved with varying methods of field collection and lab processing. DNA was extracted, sequenced, and compared with reference sequences and field identifications.
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