Welcome to the new KBA Canada newsletter! For the last 2 years, these monthly newsletters have served as a way for interested members of the KBA community to hear directly from KBA Canada’s Director and get updates on the internal progress of the KBA Secretariat and upcoming webinars. Over that time, the KBA Canada program has expanded dramatically, and the community surrounding the KBAs has never been more diverse in terms of geography and interests. To suit that, we’re changing the format of our monthly newsletter. It will still feature the same updates and notices about upcoming webinars, but now will feature more regular features like “Deep Dives” that explore and explain the ins and outs of different parts of the KBA process, and profiles on the scientists, partners, and volunteers that are part of what makes the KBA Canada initiative so special and effective. You can still expect a regular quarterly message from KBA Canada Director, but we hope that this new format will provide more digestible and informative content to keep everyone in the community more interested, excited, and engaged in the awesome work going on here at the KBA Canada Secretariat.
We’re extremely excited to announce that 20 KBAs in Yukon have been formally accepted by our KBA Steering Committee!! These sites have completed two rounds of review with experts, rightsholders, and interested parties, and are now recognized nationally. The spatial data and information on these KBAs will soon available for viewing and downloading, but in the meantime please contact us if you would like to find out more.
Looking for a short read? Check out this excellent article by members of the KBA Canada team at Birds Canada, on the IBA to KBA transition and featuring a spotlight on Ontario’s in-progress Frontenac Forest KBA!
This year’s World Conservation Congress featured a great presentation by Chloé Debyser on KBA Canada’s collaborative approach to identifying KBAs.
If you’re looking for a new podcast, NatureServe’s “Conservation Conversations with Sean O’Brien” is an excellent series exploring the inspiring stories of conservationists in North America and beyond. Check out the September episode featuring Peter Soroye discussing KBAs, climate change, pollinators and more.
BC KBA Regional Coordinator Ian Adams will be hosting a British Columbia KBA outreach webinar on Tuesday, Oct 26th, 10am-11am Pacific / 1pm-2pm Eastern, for all interested. Join for a (re)introduction to the process, an update on the work done so far, and information on further opportunities for involvement. Find more info and RSVP here.
The KBA Canada monthly webinar series returns on Thursday, Oct 28th, 9am-10am Pacific / 12pm-1pm Eastern. KBA champions from WCS Canada and Birds Canada will share their thoughts and ideas on how KBAs could be applied across our broad and diverse conservation community. Find more info and RSVP here.
The recordings for all past webinars can be found on our website.
Monthly Feature – Deep dive: KBA expert workshop
The KBA expert workshops are one of the most exciting and dynamic steps in the KBA process; drawing together a veritable who’s-who of species or site experts from around a common regional and/or taxonomic theme to help KBA Coordinators jump-start the process of KBA identification and delineation. According to David Fraser, a Canadian COSEWIC expert, naturalist, and frequent KBA Canada advisor, the workshops are a cost- and time-efficient way to make sure that the best and most up-to-date expert knowledge is included into the KBA identification process.
Incorporating expert and local knowledge into KBA site identification, and working with experts to delineate sites and develop the nomination forms for KBAs, is a central part of the KBA initiative in Canada. KBA Coordinators have access to one of the most comprehensive datasets available on species distributions and occurrences in Canada, thanks to NatureServe Canada and partnerships with regional Conservation Data Centers and data owners, but this data pales in comparison to the knowledge and experience of experts that work with these species. To identify KBAs well, coordinators use this data as a starting point, and then rely on the expertise of researchers and naturalists who have been in the field. By gathering specialists together in KBA expert meetings, KBA Coordinators can incorporate information from experts’ visits to sites and knowledge of the land directly into delineation, and can use information from the latest field seasons and unpublished COSEWIC reports to inform species abundances and population numbers.
“While we’re sitting there figuring out how to delineate a KBA, and making sure that we have the right blob identified on the [map], having someone that’s actually been on the site and goes: “oh that habitat over there is just as valuable as the stuff over here, we should include that” is really valuable and tends to be the kind of stuff that doesn’t get written down. There’s really no other way of getting that information other than by being on an expert call.” – David Fraser
The KBA expert workshops are more than just about contributing to KBA identification and delineation, they’re also great spaces to interact with peers and nerd-out about the species and places that attendees hold dear. David Fraser has been to nearly every KBA expert workshop in Canada; from meetings centered on KBAs in Yukon, to Freshwater KBAs, to KBAs for Ontarian Reptiles and Amphibians, and he finds that experts value the opportunity to work cooperatively with peers on a common cause where their expertise is really valuable.
While expert meetings are typically held in person, the temporary transition to online workshops during COVID has been nearly seamless according to David. Although meetings have gone from multi-day events to a few hours over Zoom, the preparation that KBA Coordinators do beforehand, the technologies that are used to share maps and screens, and the talents of the meeting organizers and live-GIS facilitators, go a long way towards keeping the meetings engaging and productive. In the recent Ontarian Reptiles and Amphibians workshop, for example, experts from across the province (and even from a canoe in the field!) were able to identify and roughly delineate four new potential KBAs for several species at risk, with three new candidate sites also identified. The biggest thing missing now that workshops are online? “The problem solving over beer : some things are just better done ‘in person’”, says David.
We are always looking for more experts to join the growing network of people that inform the KBA process. If you are a species or taxonomic specialist, or if you have a special knowledge of a particular site or region and would like to be a part of an upcoming expert KBA workshop, contact us at KBA Canada.
As always, please get in touch if you have questions or if you want to learn more.
Canada Key Biodiversity Areas Assessment and Outreach Coordinator / Coordonnateur de l’évaluation et de la sensibilisation des zones clés pour la biodiversité