The EHJV is part of a unique collaborative wildlife conservation and management strategy, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. An agreement between Canada and the United States in 1986, and with Mexico in 1994, led to the signing of the Plan, which is aimed at assuring the survival and increase of waterfowl populations, primarily by preserving and restoring quality wetlands.
Joint ventures were established to provide a framework for initiatives of the private organizations and central and regional governments participating in the Plan. The Plan was officially launched in Québec in November 1989 with the establishment of the Eastern Habitat Joint Venture (EHJV), which covers six provinces in eastern Canada (Ontario, Québec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador).
Six permanent partners are now responsible for the EHJV in Québec: Ducks Unlimited Canada, Nature Conservancy Canada, the Fondation de la faune du Québec, the ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs, the ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune, and the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada.
These partners have a wide range of interests and collaborate on numerous projects in order to secure and restore quality waterfowl habitats, while maintaining their own identities and operating procedures.
The activities of Québec partners are mainly focused on the protection of habitats and the restoration of wetlands along the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers.
The EHJV is not a funding program. Rather, it takes the form of a variety of habitat conservation activities and projects that are accomplished on an annual basis by partners. Action is targeted under four components:
Protection through the acquisition of land and servitudes and the conclusion of protection agreements (voluntary conservation) with landowners;
- Wildlife enhancement work at protected sites;
- Assessment of sites to be enhanced and monitoring of enhancement work already carried out;
- Promotion of recreational and educational aspects of protected sites.
Since 1987, over $29 265 293 has been spent on wetlands protection. Work at 86 sites has culminated in the protection of 21 936 ha. In order to secure the most productive or most threatened wetlands, negotiations have been entered into with private landowners. Thanks to these acquisitions and the commitment of local communities, which will ensure future conservation, the Plan's partners have been able to restore sites, improve the quality of waterfowl and other species' habitats and protect wetlands biodiversity.
However, it is not always necessary or desirable to purchase land to protect it. A new method has been developed in recent years involving the support for voluntary conservation of targeted land. This consists in providing landowners with information, raising their awareness and encouraging them to take the means at their disposal to protect and improve wildlife habitats found on their land.
The efforts of EHJV partners have culminated in the enhancement of 8 030 ha of wetlands and uplands essential for waterfowl. Over $14 695 290 has been invested in enhancement activities. This work, which has involved the restoration of marshes, the construction of water control structures and the clean-up of riverbanks, has helped to improve the quality of deteriorated and unproductive wetlands and associated uplands.
Monitoring and assessment components
Various studies, inventories and reports have documented wildlife use of sites to be enhanced and assessed the wildlife performance of work already carried out. In the case of waterfowl, for instance, studies have looked at the effectiveness of various techniques for handling nesting cover, the identification of environmental factors governing habitat use in agricultural watersheds and the use of freshwater island environments during the breeding season. Many projects have also involved surveys of threatened species. A great deal of effort has been placed on understanding the distribution of wetlands and waterfowl. An assessment of soil and wetlands use has also been carried out using new technologies such as satellite imagery and geographic information systems (GIS). In agricultural areas, habitats have been characterized, and studies have been undertaken in woodlands and other types of landscapes, including a study conducted in the forest environment that looked at the impact of clearcutting on habitat use by waterfowl clearcutting on habitat use by waterfowl.
Promotion and Education component
The last component complements protection and enhancement activities. The majority of land acquired under the EHJV, and whose management has been delegated, is subject to recreational and educational promotion plans prepared to harmoniously implement activities for the public, i.e. migratory bird observation, hiking and controlled hunting, while safeguarding environmental integrity. On several sites, reception stations and observation platforms have been built and trails facilitate better contact with the natural environment. Conditions permitting, bike paths and nautical trails have been created.
Since 1987, a total of $57.6 million has been invested in Québec to conserve and increase the wildlife productivity of many sites under various Plan activities. A review of these many years of work on a hundred or so projects in the province shows the variety of initiatives and each partner's contribution. Various organizations, associations and businesses have also made financial or other contributions, depending on the nature of the project and their own interests.
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