STEWARDSHIP GROUP DEVELOPMENT
taking a grassroots approach
WRITTEN BY: RICHELLE MARTIN
The Nature Trust has set out on a mission to develop strong groups of volunteer land stewards to help care for our growing network of nature preserves across the province. Having groups of stewards, like the “Friends of Blueberry Hill”, as the caretakers and experts of these natural spaces allows for increased monitoring, improved trail maintenance and capacity to take on restoration projects.
In 2016, the Nature Trust, in collaboration with partners and naturalists, offered 10 site-specific stewardship group training workshops equipping volunteers with the skills necessary to take on the monitoring and care for their nature preserve.
Included in these groups were projects with youth stewardship groups from the Millville Elementary School at the Slippery Mitten Nature Preserve and the École Samuel-de-Champlain at the Boars Head Nature Preserve. Together we worked on a monitoring project of the northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) at Slippery Mitten.
In an attempt to find out whether these nocturnal squirrels were utilizing our nature preserve, we built flying squirrel nesting boxes with the school and installed them on the preserve with wildlife cameras to try and capture photos of them using the boxes. We were pleased to get many great shots!
A workshop held in Florenceville-Bristol included presentations on ecological knowledge from the Maliseet Nation Conservation Council and the endangered cobblestone tiger beetle (Cicindela marginipennis) from Canadian Rivers Institute. This included a trip in Canoe Kayak New Brunswick’s big canoes with the stewards to visit Green Island Nature Preserve.
The Friends of Grindstone Island stewardship group organized their first trip to Grindstone Island to complete a botanical survey and monitoring of the island. Following the trip, they hosted a “Grindstone Night” information session and fundraiser bringing in nearly 100 people. The stewardship group development project is about empowering people to take responsibility to care for their local environment, and spreading appreciation and awareness for New Brunswick’s natural heritage.
We are using a grassroots approach, fostering community leadership to have these stewardship groups running on their own. We envision some of these groups hosting their own public events at the nature preserves, taking on citizen science projects, and becoming advocates for conservation in their communities.
If you are interested in collaborating with The Nature Trust on this project or getting involved in one of the stewardship groups,
please contact Bethany Young, Stewardship Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.