Jeff Wells is a special friend of Wilderness North, and has visited our wilderness destinations, and writes articles and podcasts for us from time to time.
Here is a edited version of his National Geographic Blog:
When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads south on March 10 for his first official visit to the United States, his plane may well pass directly over some of the billions of birds migrating north from points throughout the U.S. to Canada.
While Trudeau’s visit is momentous—it will include discussions with President Barack Obama on bilateral climate change policy and the first White House state dinner for a Canadian leader in 19 years—the bird migration, an annual phenomenon that involves hundreds of species, is also remarkable.
More notably, the mass migration and the Trudeau-Obama meeting are intertwined: One major reason the birds have welcoming habitat on both sides of the border is the 100-year history of conservation collaboration between Canada and the United States.
In an effort to stem unchecked bird killing, the U.S. and Canada (actually Britain, on behalf of Canada at the time) in 1916 negotiated the Migratory Bird Convention, a treaty to ban hunting of most songbirds, and set regulations on the number of other birds that could be hunted. Canada passed the Migratory Birds Convention Act in 1917 to enforce the provisions of the treaty. The companion U.S. legislation, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, came into effect in 1918.
This was the first formal treaty to require the management of a continental-scale natural resource across two of the largest nations on Earth. The pact protected hundreds of species and set the foundation for biodiversity conservation decades before the word “biodiversity” was coined.
The treaty remains relevant and has helped spawn additional, successful initiatives to protect birds and other wildlife.
Over the past 20 years, more than 30 million acres of wetland habitat have been bought, restored, or enhanced through 2,553 projects funded with $1.4 billion in NAWCA grants. These monies leveraged another $2.9 billion from the more than 5,000 partners across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
Perhaps the most significant modern bird conservation achievements have been taking place in Canada’s boreal forest region, which is known as North America’s bird nursery.
Each spring, an estimated 1 billion to 3 billion birds representing more than 300 species migrate to the boreal region to nest and breed.
Through the above-mentioned efforts, the amount of land in Canada protected through conservation designation is growing every year. For example, within the past decade, the provinces of Ontario and Quebec committed to protect half of their boreal forest territory. The entire blog can be read or downloaded here