May 29, 2009 (Ottawa) – As millions of migratory birds return home from their southern wintering grounds, Nature Canada has announced that TransCanada Corporation will support an initiative to protect important bird habitat across the country.
TransCanada Corporation has committed $1 million over the next five years as a national sponsor of the Canadian Important Bird Area Caretakers Network, a nationwide initiative to establish a volunteer network of caretakers who will watch over and protect Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in their community.
"Community stewardship of local bird habitat is essential for the health of the Important Bird Area system – and for the birds," said Mara Kerry, Nature Canada’s director of conservation. "These natural spaces are vitally important for our breeding, migrating, staging and wintering birds, and the conservation of these sites is a cornerstone of effective bird conservation."
Volunteer caretakers, who can be individuals or nature groups, will help conserve IBAs by surveying bird populations, building nest boxes, erecting signs, removing invasive species, planting native grasses, and promoting awareness of the value of wildlife. There are 597 IBAs in Canada.
"TransCanada believes in building relationships in the communities in which we live and work, and this philosophy is shared with the Caretaker Network Program," said Brian McConaghy, TransCanada Corporation’s VP of Community, Safety and Environment. "Caretakers work with the community to promote Important Bird Area sites and to ensure that local conservation ideas are put into action."
TransCanada has been a strong supporter of Nature Canada’s bird conservation efforts inside Important Bird Areas for the past six years.
"Support from partners like TransCanada means there will be eyes and ears on the ground at IBAs to increase awareness and undertake conservation action," said Kerry. "This will help ensure a brighter future for birds, and help to preserve healthy ecosystems for birds, other wildlife, and people."
Nature Canada and provincial naturalist organizations met May 25-26 to formally begin the work of establishing the Important Bird Areas Caretaker Network. A public launch event is planned for the fall, in Ottawa.
About Nature Canada
Nature Canada is an Ottawa-based charity whose mandate is to protect and conserve wildlife and habitats in Canada by engaging people and advocating on behalf of nature. We are the Canadian co-partner, with Bird Studies Canada, in BirdLife International. Together we deliver the international Important Bird Areas (IBA) program in Canada, which aims to identify, conserve and monitor a network of sites that provides essential habitat for bird populations.