June 2021
Médias Bulletins
Jun 02, 2021 post image

Hello all,

Unbelievably, we’re arriving at summer once more. After such a challenging year, I hope that everyone is benefiting from warmer days filled with light and biodiversity of some kind. KBA work will continue apace in the summer although often there are fewer meetings and workshops as schedules are difficult to align.

New work in the coming months will focus on KBA Ecosystem criteria. Many of you won’t be familiar with the ecosystem criteria as we have mostly focused on species-focused KBAs in workshops and meetings. Ecosystems can trigger a KBA if they are threatened, or geographically restricted, or if they are the most ecologically intact area within an ecoregion. Alvars, prairie grasslands, and dunes are all examples of ecosystems that may meet KBA criteria, while the most ecologically intact areas will be found in the boreal and more northern ecosystems.

KBA ecosystem criteria are harder to apply because, to begin with, they require understanding of where each ecosystem fits within a standardized ecosystem classification system. We have multiple such systems in use across Canada, and they need to be crosswalked to align with each other and with international classification systems. Stephen Woodley (IUCN and KBA Canada Management Committee) has been developing the ecosystem criteria work with collaborators across Canada and with NatureServe, and ecosystem sites have been scoped out in the prairie ecosystems and in BC. With the leadership of Sean Basquill, Nova Scotia will lead some pilot work on ecosystem KBAs in the coming year as well.

Finally, Lucy Poley has just come aboard WCS Canada’s KBA team to coordinate the ecosystem criteria work, including on KBA Criterion C – large sites with the highest ecological integrity within an ecoregion. She will make use of the methodological development of a team of researchers, led by Juan Zuloaga and Andy Gonzalez at McGill University, and organize regional workshops to identify KBAs based on the scoping methods developed. We are excited to move forward with ecosystem criteria sites, they are likely to contribute in important ways to the network of KBAs in Canada. We will keep you posted on opportunities to contribute and let us know if you have questions.

Additional updates:

  • At WCS Canada, Vicky Papuga has joined us as a summer intern to provide support to the KBA Secretariat and regional coordinators. Vicky is finishing her Master’s in Environmental Studies at Dalhousie University and is interested in wildlife movement and distributions.
  • A huge thank you to Sarah Robinson who has been the Atlantic Canada KBA Coordinator for the past 1.5 years and has led the drive to identify KBAs in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland until now. Sarah is moving on to a new job in consulting and we are grateful for her important contributions. Caitlin Porter with the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre (ACCDC) will be the new point person on KBAs at the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Center (although fieldwork will mean no new work from the ACCDC team until the late fall). While many KBAs in the region has been identified and delineated, there is still a need to consult widely on the technical work that has been completed, and the KBA Secretariat will be taking this on in the coming months.
  • The EBAR mapping project at NatureServe Canada has also welcomed Gabrielle Miller as its new national coordinator. Gabrielle is replacing the Christine Terwissen who has returned to a previous post at the Ontario Natural Heritage Information Centre.
  • Birds Canada is happy to welcome Zummara Tanwir to help with KBA work. Zummara recently finished a term as Stewardship Officer with the Canada Wildlife Service where she supported the development, implementation and monitoring of conservation programs in Ontario. Zummara will be helping with the provincial review of bird data at existing KBAs (IBAs) and IBA/KBA overlaps, among other things.
  • NatureServe Canada was recently awarded the NatureServe Collaboration Award for the EBAR project at the 2021 Biodiversity without Boundaries Conference. This award recognizes the project’s commitment of science-based conservation through intra- and extra-network collaboration, personal integrity, respect for others, and the production of high-quality data, tools and knowledge.
  • The KBA Secretariat was recently invited to speak at the International Association of Great Lakes Research’s annual conference in the session on Global to Local: Canada’s post-2020 freshwater goals and targets. You can find a recording of the presentation, “Key Biodiversity Areas to Focus Biodiversity Conservation” here.
  • Chloé Debyser participated in Biodiversity Without Boundaries 2021 on behalf of the KBA Canada Secretariat last month. She presented her work contrasting the outcomes of KBA identification in Canada when using “bottom-up” versus “top-down” approaches. Bottom-up work – i.e. site-by-site work that is guided by expert input and ground truthed – is the approach taken for most KBA identification in Canada. Preliminary results suggest that centralized, automated top-down approaches could also help prioritize and complement this work. We look forward to discussing these analyses further with experts.

Spotlight on KBA Canada Team Members:

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Meg Southee is a GIS Analyst and Spatial Data Manager for WCS Canada. While her primary post is with the Ontario Northern Boreal Landscape Program, Meg shares her skills and expertise across various programs and is an essential member of the KBA Canada team. Meg uses ArcGIS and Python to develop geospatial tools and address different research objectives for the terrestrial and freshwater research programs of WCS Canada. Meg plays a central role in the design of various KBA databases, including our KBA-EBAR GIS database where we do the work to delineate KBAs. In addition to ongoing database management, Meg develops geoprocessing tools to meet the needs of the KBA program and provides technical support and training for KBA regional coordinators. In addition to being a spatial data pro, Meg is a wonderful science communicator with recent publications in Canadian Geographic on identifying priority areas for fish in the Arctic watershed in Ontario, and the importance of peatlands for combating climate change.

Upcoming webinars:

Title: Key Biodiversity Areas in Canada: Updates and Progress

Date and time June 9th at 12-2pm EDT


This special webinar will explore all aspects of work completed over the last two years to identify and delineate Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) in Canada and will present plans for the next two years. Updates will include progress after two years, how the work is being conducted, who’s involved and how the initiative is governed and managed. The webinar will include a number of short presentations from the perspectives of governments, NGOs and scientists that have been involved in the KBA initiative.

Everyone is welcome!


All times are in EDT.

12:00  Introduction – Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne (WCS Canada)

12:08  Where we’re at with new KBAs – Jaime Grimm (WCS Canada)

12:20   KBAs – A Pathway to Canada Target 1 priority – Courtney Robertson (Environment and Climate Change Canada)

12:28  How KBAs could be used at a provincial level – BC – Louise Blight (BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and University of Victoria)

12:35  Nova Scotia government perspective – Dave MacKinnon (NS Department of Environment & Climate Change)

12:45  KBA assessment at the regional scale in Quebec – Kim Gauthier Schampaert (Université de Sherbrooke)

12:55  Scoping KBAs identified for the highest ecological integrity – Juan Zuloaga (McGill University)      

1:05    National KBA database in development – Andrew Couturier (Birds Canada)

1:15    Building on IBAs towards KBAs in BC –  Liam Ragan (BC Nature)

1:25     How KBAs will conserve biodiversity – Sherman Boates (National Advisor for the KBA program)

1:35-2   Q&A period                                 

Past webinars

The recordings for all past webinars can be found on our website.

As always, please get in touch if you have questions or if you want to learn more.

Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne

Canada Key Biodiversity Areas Coordinator / Coordonnatrice Zones Clés pour la Biodiversité

Jun 02, 2021