Introduction Project Overview In September 2012, the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association initiated a project to develop a Community Conservation and Stewardship Plan for the Bruce Peninsula through funding from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. This project has brought together the vast local knowledge and expertise of our community to better understand the Bruce Peninsula’s biodiversity and the critical environmental issues it faces. It has provided a forum for community dialogue and learning, leading to a strategic, place-based action plan to protect, restore and benefit from our region’s biodiversity. The project has also established a foundation for creating a strong network of community partners on the Bruce Peninsula by engaging property owners, businesses, farmers, community organizations, Aboriginal groups, government agencies, academic institutions, and others, in the development of this plan. With this community network and a course of action, we can come together to address immediate community issues while building our resilience to those that emerge in the future. The Conservation and Stewardship Plan for the Bruce Peninsula is intended as a strategic framework to guide and coordinate local action to address critical issues that may compromise the ecological, social, and economic wellbeing of our community. The plan offers a suite of recommended actions that our community can work towards in partnership over the next five years. Although the focus of the plan is to ensure the integrity of our region’s biodiversity, it recognizes the need to balance both conservation and community development objectives, and it strives to integrate both where possible. Based on broad input from our community and partners, the purpose of this plan is to: Create a unified vision and strategic focus for local conservation and stewardship efforts; Enable coordinated multi-stakeholder action to address complex and multi-jurisdictional issues; Compile key information on our region’s biodiversity and ensure that it is broadly accessible to our community and our partners; Facilitate the sharing of knowledge, expertise, and ideas, and; Strengthen access to human and financial resources to enable action
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Vision Statement Generations from now, new stewards of the Bruce Peninsula will be inspired by our legacy. Whether standing on the breathtaking cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment or finding solitude in an ancient alvar, the landscapes and waterscapes of the Bruce Peninsula will reveal our stories of a proud, committed community that worked together to safeguard the area`s rich and irreplaceable natural environments. As one of the most intact natural areas left in southern Ontario, the Bruce Peninsula will remain as a critical refuge for globally, nationally and provincially rare species and continue to preserve an outstanding mosaic of healthy terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. As part of a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, we will demonstrate to the world a community-based model for protecting our environments while building a sustainable prosperous community. Our people will be recognized as passionate stewards, working together to maintain and restore the area`s spectacular biodiversity, its ecosystems and the services that they offer us. Our network of protected places will ensure that these features remain unimpaired for all time, providing opportunities to discover and to learn about the wonders of this place. Our shared knowledge will inform our decisions, inspire our actions, and nurture innovation. Our way of life will be deeply rooted in a culture of sustainability as we recognize that our livelihoods, our health, and our wellbeing are all intrinsically connected to the lands and waters of the Bruce Peninsula.
Mission Statement To protect, maintain and restore the Bruce Peninsula’s rich diversity of plant, fish and wildlife communities by conserving the lands, the waters, and the natural processes that sustain them so that all may benefit from them, now and in the future.
Project Outcomes 1.
Create a community-based action plan that will enable measurable improvements to the ecological integrity of the Bruce Peninsula through a coordinated, cooperative approach to conservation and stewardship
Gather and present key information to increase public awareness and understanding of the Bruce Peninsula’s ecological significance and to encourage local stewardship
Build a conservation network to strengthen collaboration between organizations and to build support for plan implementation
Plan Scope A five-year planning period has been adopted for the implementation of the Community Conservation and Stewardship Plan extending from 2014-2019. The geographic area focuses on a large part of the Bruce Peninsula, a 90-kilometre peninsula that separates Georgian Bay from Lake Huron. As shown in Figure 1.1, the boundaries of the plan area are based on subwatershed boundaries extending from the islands off of Tobermory to Chief’s Point on the Lake Huron coast and to Cape Croker on the Georgian Bay coast. The planning area includes terrestrial and aquatic systems on the land base of the Bruce Peninsula as well as the nearshore zone of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, which extends to a depth of 30 metres. The plan area 2 occupies a total of 1749.92 km , of which the land base and islands of the Bruce Peninsula consist of 956.55 2 2 km and the nearshore waters surrounding the Bruce Peninsula consist of 793.37 km .
COMMUNITY CONSERVATION AND STEWARDSHIP PLAN
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Figure 1.1. Plan area boundary and associated subwatersheds (Cartographics Ltd., 2014).
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Planning Process Planning Framework The planning framework for the Community Conservation and Stewardship Plan was adapted from a proven process developed by The Nature Conservancy (The Nature Conservancy, 2000). The Conservation Action Planning (CAP) process uses concepts of adaptive management to plan, implement, and measure success for conservation projects. This process produced the following, each of which comprises a chapter of this technical report: Selection of biodiversity features that represent the full suite of the Bruce Peninsula’s biodiversity and a health assessment for each feature (Chapter 3) Identification and ranking of stressors to the Bruce Peninsula’s biodiversity (Chapter 4) Development of key strategies and actions to maintain and restore local biodiversity, abate critical stressors, and build community capacity for conservation (Chapter 5)
Methodology The following outlines the steps used in the development of this plan: STEP 1: BIODIVERSITY FEATURES “Biodiversity features” are target species, natural communities, or ecosystems chosen to represent the full suite of biodiversity of the Bruce Peninsula and they define what the Community Conservation and Stewardship Plan is aiming to conserve. Effective conservation of these biodiversity features should ensure the conservation of native biodiversity on the Bruce Peninsula. The Steering Committee identified seven biodiversity features which were further refined through public and stakeholder input. The biodiversity features selected are: Forests, Open Lands, Alvars, Inland Waters, Great Lakes Shorelines, Coastal Wetlands, and Nearshore Waters. STEP 2: VIABILITY ASSESSMENT The “viability assessment” is an evaluation of the current “health” status of each biodiversity feature. The viability assessment focuses on a suite of key ecological attributes (KEAs) and indicators for each biodiversity feature. A key ecological attribute is an aspect of a biodiversity feature that, if present, defines a healthy status and if missing or altered, would lead to the loss or degradation of that feature over time (e.g. water quality, ecosystem connectivity). KEAs are categorized based on the size or extent of the biodiversity feature, its condition (e.g. biological composition, structure and biotic interactions), and its landscape context (e.g. natural processes, surrounding land use). Indicators are specific measures to assess the status of each KEA. Each indicator is rated as Poor, Fair, Good, or Very Good based on thresholds that define acceptable ranges of variation and these ratings are aggregated to provide an overall assessment for the biodiversity feature. The identification of KEAs and indicators were primarily based on existing programs and information, and assessments were based on the best available information. It should be noted that a regional assessment of this nature has not been conducted on the Bruce Peninsula and, as such, there are challenges in assembling this information - many indicators have not been developed, there are inconsistencies in protocols among partners,
Figure 1.2. Steps in the planning process.
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and a lack of representation of the entire plan area in the assessment. While indicators or data were not available for many of the assessments, the key ecological attributes were still included as placeholders to identify information gaps and to understand stresses that may be impacting the respective biodiversity feature. The viability assessment will also provide a basis for coordinating regional monitoring efforts, identifying gaps in information, and creating opportunities for regular reporting to the community on the health of the Bruce Peninsula’s biodiversity. STEP 3: ECOSYSTEM STRESSORS “Ecosystem stressors” are factors that have a direct or indirect negative impact on the health of biodiversity features or on the ecological systems and processes that sustain them. Using existing literature, an initial list of stressors was prepared for each biodiversity feature which was further refined by the steering committee, as well as participants at community workshops and meetings. These stressors were ranked according to the scope and severity of their impacts, and the difficulty of reversing these impacts. Through planning exercises at the community workshops, participants reaffirmed and refined the list of stressors and helped to identify environmental, economic, social, and political factors influencing many of the stressors, which provided the basis for identifying key strategies and objectives. STEP 4: STRATEGIES AND ACTION PLAN Strategies were developed to directly mitigate ecosystem stressors and address the economic, social, or political factors associated with them. Potential strategies were assembled from existing strategies developed through other planning efforts and from input at community workshops and meetings. Strategies were organized by broad strategic areas, including: (1) Land and Water Management; (2) Species Management; (3) Education; (4) Science; (5) Planning and Policy and; (6) Protection. These strategies were further detailed by developing one or more timebound objectives and recommended actions. Strategies and actions were evaluated based on which are most critical to implement and most practical based on the current capacity and availability of resources.
Engaging the Community Public Consultation The engagement of the community and regional stakeholders was critical to the successful development of the Community Conservation and Stewardship Plan. Over 700 people were engaged in the planning process to gather local input and ideas, and to build a foundation of support for its implementation. Prior to the commencement of this project in March 2013, two stakeholder meetings were held to gather input from 34 local and regional stakeholder representatives on the feasibility and possible approach for the project. This was supplemented with personal communications with community members and a stakeholder survey. Ten community workshops were hosted between June and October 2013, which were attended by a total of 233 participants. These workshops offered presentations on each biodiversity feature and provided opportunities for participants to identify concerns and contribute input on potential strategies and actions. A two-day Working Group Summit was attended by 27 participants representing steering committee members, workshop participants, and technical experts. The Summit focused on action planning for
COMMUNITY CONSERVATION AND STEWARDSHIP PLAN
Figure 1.3. Community workshops.
each biodiversity feature, including: (1) confirmation of definitions and nested features; (2) identification of monitoring and assessment programs, and; (3) discussion on potential goals and strategies. The executives of 13 local property owners associations were brought together to discuss local environmental concerns and the role of property owners in conservation. A meeting with 45 local farmers was also held in partnership with the Huron Bay Cooperative which presented information on agricultural trends and practices, and solicited input and participation in the planning process. Furthermore, over 500 people were also contacted through presentations to local organizations, including Bruce Peninsula Tourist Association, St. Edmunds Property Owners Inc., Bruce County Federation of Agriculture, Little Pike Bay Residents Association, Isthmus Bay Property Owners Association, Men’s Breakfast, Women’s Information Network, and Miller Lake Community Group, among others.
Steering Committee A steering committee has been fundamental in developing this plan, with representatives from 23 organizations guiding the planning process and providing broad input, technical advice and expertise. The steering committee will also be an important vehicle for building support for the implementation of the plan among their respective networks and creating a long-lasting conservation network in the future. The following outlines the steering committee members and their respective organizations: Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association Bruce Peninsula Environment Group Bruce Peninsula Tourist Association County of Bruce Environment Canada Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy Grey Sauble Conservation Authority Historic Saugeen Métis Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation Little Pike Bay Residents Association Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula Nature Conservancy of Canada Niagara Escarpment Commission Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Ontario Ministry of the Environment Ontario Nature Ontario Parks Parks Canada Resident Saugeen Ojibway Nations Environment Office Sources of Knowledge St. Edmunds Property Owners Inc. Town of South Bruce Peninsula
Elizabeth Thorn (Chair) Dale Thompson Shirley Teasdale Chris Laforest (Advisor) Greg Mayne Robert Barnett John Cotrill Audrey Holden Donna Stewart Ralph Jell Bill Jones (Advisor) Cara Copeland Lisa Grbinicek Jacqui Laporte Craig Todd Ted Briggs John Urquhart and Megan Anevich Keith Early Michael Patrikeev George Heigenhauser Janna Chegahno Ray Rothenbury Paul Cormier Marilyn Bowman
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A Shared Commitment The Lake Huron Charter The Lake Huron-Georgian Bay Framework for Community Action (www.lakehuroncommunityaction.ca) is a peoplebased approach that promotes community action to respond to environmental issues across the greater Lake Huron watershed. The Framework is intended to connect the actions of government and non-government organizations, raise awareness about common environmental issues and actions, and build upon the existing strengths and opportunities in our communities. It encourages active participation in resource stewardship, promotes environmentally responsible decisions and activities, establishes a shared network of contact people and environmental information, and promotes local restoration and protection initiatives. The Community Conservation and Stewardship Plan uses this as guiding principles with which to engage our own community and to share our local knowledge and our successes with other communities in the Lake Huron-Georgian Bay watershed.
We, the people(s) of the Lake Huron Watershed believe in a healthy, life sustaining ecosystem that provides our cultural, economic and spiritual fulfillment. Through this Charter we commit to working together to restore and protect the lands and waters of the Lake Huron Watershed for today and for all generations.
We see – clean air, clean water, healthy landscapes of forest and field; our community as a place where all people work together and reach positive solutions to environmental concerns, and; doors opening for new partnerships, new opportunities, and increased environmental pride through community action
We recognize – that our lands and waters have been degraded and our attitudes and actions must change; that by protecting our life sustaining food, air and water, we protect ourselves; that we must adapt to our changing world especially our changing climate; that efforts by many have begun to make a positive difference, and; that we share the responsibility to sustain a healthy natural environment and as individuals, communities and government we are ready to take ownership and action
We will take action – by becoming aware of the watershed’s ecosystem and by identifying environmental issues and seizing opportunities for protection and restoration; by supporting the efforts of individuals, communities, businesses and government, to identify needs, goals and by promoting action, and; by being part of a network to share information with all people of the Lake Huron watershed
And, this will ensure – that degraded areas are restored and environmental health sustained; that our use of land and water is ecologically sound, and; that our open waters, shorelines, farmlands, forests, rivers, streams and wetlands across the watershed, are protected today and for all future generations.