Conservation Planning – Upper St. John River (USJR)
Conservation Planning Update: Upper St. John River (USJR)
In recent years, the Nature Trust has turned its attention back to the Upper St. John River region and extended its strategic conservation planning to develop a Habitat Conservation Strategy for this area of the province. This region is not new to the Nature Trust, and has been one of its highest priority areas for habitat stewardship and Species at Risk conservation for many years.
In 1992, the Nature Trust acquired an important piece of St. John River shoreline where one of the five known Canadian sites supporting the Endangered Furbish’s lousewort plant. This elusive plant is protected under the Species at Risk Act, and is still found at this site. The Nature Trust is actively protecting another Endangered species, the Cobblestone tiger beetle, at three island preserves in the St. John River between Florenceville and Hartland where some of this species’ highly sensitive habitat is found.
Two past projects led by the Nature Trust led to a vast improvement in our understanding of the conservation significance of the Upper St. John River region, especially for the province’s rare flora. In 1997, the Nature Trust initiated the Appalachian Hardwood Forest Conservation Project to preserve one of New Brunswick’s most threatened forest ecosystems, of which less than 1% remains of its former extent. The scant remains of this unique type of tolerant hardwood forest are found primarily on private woodlots; they support a suite of rare wildflowers, ferns, and other plant species some of which are found nowhere else in the Maritimes, as well as the Endangered butternut tree. As you read this, Nature Trust is hard at work with private landowners to improve awareness of the need to manage these woods responsibly, and to seek out opportunities to preserve some sites permanently. In 2000, the Nature Trust undertook a large scale rare-plant conservation project to identify the St. John River’s most important areas of rare-plant shoreline habitat and where they are threatened. Several voluntary stewardship agreements were developed with private landowners with important habitat during the lifetime of this project.
With the development of the Upper St. John River Habitat Conservation Strategy (HCS), the Nature Trust and its partners are now better able to support community and conservation organizations in this region who are working to address threats associated with sensitive habitats and Species at Risk. The HCS will present recommended strategies to address these threats that others can adopt in their conservation projects and programs, ensuring that our collective efforts are concentrating resources in the most appropriate areas, resulting in a stronger collaborative conservation effort in the region.
The Nature Trust will also use the knowledge gained from our previous work in conjunction with information from the Habitat Conservation Strategy to increase public awareness of unique ecosystems and Species at Risk, and to protect habitat on private land in the region through partnership building, stewardship support, and land acquisition.
The Nature Trust’s Conservation Planning in the Upper St. John River project is generously supported by:
The McCain Foundation, and the Government of Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk.