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NSIS Monday, September 14th 2020: Socially Responsible Science: Through the Earth Sciences Lens

SPEAKER Dr. Anne Daziel Faculty Associate Department of Biology, Saint Mary’s University2020
With the ever-increasing demand humans continue to place on earth’s physical resources and our growing understanding of the environment, Dr. Ryan explores the heightened need for geo-ethics among working earth scientists.“What is the responsibility of (geo) scientists in today’s society? How do we balance the ethics involved in ensuring a sustainable environment while also extracting the materials we deem necessary for modern civilization in the 21st Century and the future? Whose responsibility is it to educate science students on awareness and accountability in relation to society and to the environment?”These are just some of the questions that the interface of geoscience and ethics pose for us as a society. Join us to explore science versus humanity from the perspective of earth scientists, with implications for other ?elds of science.”
Due to covid-19 it will not be in-person, but will be available on Zoom. The link to the Zoom meeting will be posted on the NSIS website ( or ) just prior to the start time.

Nova Scotia Supreme Court rules in favour of Naturalists/East Coast Environmental Law versus NS Lands & Forestry

Today’s decision confirms that Nova Scotia’s ESA is the law, and not a set of vague or voluntary guidelines. The Minister is required to fulfill the law’s mandatory requirements to protect some of the province’s most vulnerable species. Sarah McDonald, Ecojustice lawyer

Ram’s Head orchid

From the Background to Supreme Court Decision (May 29, 2020)

The Minister of Lands and Forestry (the Minister) is responsible for implementing the ESA [Endangered Species Act]. The Applicants say the Minister has failed to implement the ESA as it pertains to six representative species: Mainland Moose, Ram’s-head Lady Slipper, Canada Warbler, Black Ash, Wood Turtle, and Eastern Wood Pewee. Each of these species is native to Nova Scotia and is listed as endangered, threatened, or vulnerable under the ESA. The Applicants [Robert Bancroft, Federation of Nova Scotia Naturalists, Blomidon Naturalists Society and The Halifax Field Naturalists with East Coast Environmental Law Association as Intervenor] seek a declaration that the Minister’s failure to implement the ESA, specifically section 15, is unlawful and unreasonable; an order of mandamus; and a supervisory order by which the court would retain jurisdiction and require the Minister to produce status reports on the implementation of section 15.

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Earth Day Webinar with EAC will highlight wild areas in Halifax

It will stream live on Facebook on Wed. April 22, 2020 from 1pm to 3pm

UPDATE Apr 23, 2020: The webinar (minus the first 10 min) is archived on the EAC Facebook Page
Message just received:

EAC is hosting a webinar on Earth Day, featuring the work of 4 staff members at EAC. I’ll [Karen McKendry, EACWilderness Outreach Coordinator] be one of the presenters, and will focus on the last 3 large wild areas in urban Halifax: Purcells Cove Backlands, Blue Mountain, and Sandy Lake and Sackville River. I’ll also speak briefly to the health benefits for spending time in nature, including mental health benefits. I think we need the solace and calm and inspiration that nature has to offer us right now.

… Please share this Facebook post about the online event with your members:

It will stream live on Facebook on April 22 from 1pm to 3pm. People can also join by Zoom… details on that should appear on EAC’s Facebook page soon.

City Nature Challenge 2020 Fri Apr 24 to Mon Apr 27

View iNaturalist page:  City Nature Challenge 2020: The Maritimes Umbrella Project

“Five areas from around the Maritimes have been registered to participate: HRM, the Valley, CBRM, Saint John and Westmorland County, NB. Each of these areas has its own CNC iNat project page. This umbrella project brings all of these individual project together – we have common goals to not only introduce/promote iNaturalist but to also simply encourage people to get outdoors and explore our part of the world.
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Richard and Grace Beazley conserving nature “one clean basement at a time”

The volunteer work of HFN members Grace and Richard Beazley with the NS Nature Trust are featured in a recent post on NSNT’s blog:
Volunteer All-Stars Richard & Grace: Helping conserve nature one clean basement at a time
By Andrew Robinson on Mar 23, 2020.

Photo from the NSNT blog post

“With a lifetime spent in the health sciences field, Richard and Grace Beazley knew they wanted an active retirement—doing something healthy and physical in the outdoors. That decision, made almost 20 years ago, opened doors and opportunities they might never have expected…The Beazleys desire for an active retirement led them to become Property Guardians, first at Purcell’s Cove and later at Meander River.”

Read more to find out about basement cleaning!

Both of those properties will be familiar to many HFN members. HFN was involved in the initial purchase of the Purcell’s Cove Conservation Lands in the early 2000s and Richard and Grace led several field trips to the NSNT Meander River property over the years. The Beazleys have also led HFN members to many wonderful waterfall sites, not to mention their many other volunteer activities with HFN.

So it’s nice to learn about their basement-cleaning skills too!

HFN Conservation Committee comments on High Production Forestry Discussion Paper

Following the recommendations of the Independent Review of Forest Practices in Nova Scotia (the “Lahey Report“), NS Lands & Forestry is proceeding to set up a Triad system for managing Crown lands.

There are three zones: a Conservation Zone, consisting of Crown lands currently qualifying as “protected”; a High Production Forestry (HPF) Zone in which there will be intensive production and logging of trees; and an Ecological Matrix Zone in which “Ecological Forestry” is practiced.

Protocols for locating HPF sites and management and logging of those sites are being developed by L&F’s High Production Forestry Project. On Feb. 20th, they released a High Production Forestry Phase 1 – Discussion Paper with an invitation for public feedback by Mar 13, later extended, at least for “stakeholders”, to Mar 31.
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CPAWS asks for support to Save Owls Head Provincial Park Reserve


“The Nova Scotia government has secretly de-listed Owls Head Provincial Park Reserve and is now preparing to sell-off these public lands to a private developer who is interested in building golf courses.

“This decision was made behind-closed-doors with ZERO public consultation. The only reason why this delisting is known is because of the investigative reporting by Michael Gorman at CBC Nova Scotia.

“We urgently need your help to STOP the Nova Scotia government from selling off this coastal park for private development.

“Please send an email to Premier Stephen McNeil that calls on the government to 1) stop the sale of public lands at Owls Head, and 2) immediately protect these lands using the Wilderness Areas Protection Act.”

The CPAWS Action Website provides a form for sending a letter – please do

For more about this important conservation issue:
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iNaturalists observed 88% of the known vascular flora of Ontario in 2019

“The 2019 Big Year was a huge success. Over 200,000 observations were submitted to the project. That’s ten times the number of observations submitted to the first Big Year in 2018. Every single municipality and ecoregion in the province was represented this year and a total of 3,150 species were observed, 2,906 of which were vascular plants (Tracheophyta). Approximately 3,300 species of vascular plants are known to occur in Ontario which means that approximately 88% of the known vascular flora of Ontario was observed this year!”

View more about it at 2019 Ontario Botanists’ Big Year’s News (post by Will Van Hemessen on iNaturalist, Jan 1, 2019).

Halifax did pretty well in the 2019 iNaturalist City Nature Challenge.

HFN is participating in the organization of this year’s (2020) City Nature Challenge scheduled for April 24-27, 2020

Stay Tuned!

Thursday January 2, 2020: Evening talk on North Atlantic Wright Whales

Source: Wikipedia

Timothy Frazier holds a faculty position at Saint Mary’s University in 2009, and his research now focuses on using genetics to improving the understanding and conservation of whales. Whales are some of the most intriguing, yet difficult to study, animals on the planet. Many species have also been heavily exploited by humans, and are now endangered and are a concern for conservation. Because they spend so much of their time underwater, and so much of their behaviour occurs out of sight. Genetic analyses can be particularly useful for revealing otherwise hidden aspects of the lives of these animals and the threats that they face. In this talk Timothy Frazier will give a broad overview of the ways in which genetic analyses can help us understand and conserve whale populations, highlighted by specific case studies from his research program.
All Welcome at 7:30 pm Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History on Summer Street (lower entrance).

“Halifax’s urban wilderness is a place to leave cares behind, nature enthusiasts say”

CPress ImageA Canadian Press article on CTV news highights Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes. “Geoffrey Grantham sits painting the granite slope and wind-blown jack pine reflected in the waters of a Nova Scotia lake, his mind far from the busy city just a short walk away. It only took minutes for the 48-year-old artist to hike from a big-box retail hub in Halifax’s west end into the tranquility of the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes urban wilderness. He is among the growing number of eco-tourists — ranging from painters and bird watchers to walkers and canoeists — who journey to this area, often by bus, bike or on foot…” Artist Geoffey Grantham, veteran canoe-kayaker Dusan Soudec, Friends of Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes and Halifax North West Trails Association are all cited – and the long road to actually seeing the area as a Regional Park.

Mon Nov 4, 2019, NSIS lecture: Ethnobiology of Northeastern Turtle Island Food, Medicine & Material Security

Click on image to view it all

Tues Sep 24 2019 at 6PM at Halifax City Hall: Important Public Hearing on Green Network Plan – re Wildlife Corridors

UPDATE Wed Sep 25, 2019: The Amendment “to the Regional Plan’s conservation design development agreement policies to specifically reference the Important and Essential Corridors shown on Map 5)”  received unanimous approval at yesterdays meeting of Halifax Regional Council.


Map 5 in the Halifax Green Network Plan
Click on image for larger version and legend

Halifax (HRM) is blessed with phenomenal natural assets. In June of 2018, Regional Council tabled the Final Draft of the The Halifax Green Network Plan  which “provides land management and community design direction to:
– maintain ecologically and culturally important land and aquatic systems;
– promote the sustainable use of natural resources and economically important open spaces; and
– identify, define and plan land suited for parks and corridors”

The Essential and Important Corridors shown in Map 5 above allow movement genetic exchange of plants and animals, large and small, between otherwise isolated patches of natural habitat within HRM and across the boundaries of HRM. Without those corridors, biodiversity and ecosystems services provided by our natural spaces will inevitably decline – such habitat fragmentation and isolation is a major driver of the massive species losses currently in progress globally and locally.

Legislative followup to the HGNP is required to actually protect those corridors and  is urgent as some development has already occurred or been approved within those corridors,

“Consequently, to avoid potential conflicts in the near term, staff recommend a narrowly focused amendment to the Regional Plan’s conservation design development agreement policies to specifically reference the Important and Essential Corridors shown on Map 5, Green Network Ecology Map, contained in the HGNP. This will provide a clearer, more up-to-date basis for municipal staff and developers to consider such corridors as part of the conservation design development agreement process.”

HRM is only considering this change – it hasn’t happened yet. We need your help to ensure that they amend the Regional Plan to require all conservation design (rural residential development) to plan based on the ecological findings of the Green Network Plan.

What you can do: attend the hearing or write in advance (by 3 pm Monday, Sep 23 see below for venues) to support the amendment, asking HRM to not allow development to compromise connectivity or the ecological network in any way.

Even a few words to your  Councillor and Mayor Savage will help e.g., to  say you are strongly in support of an amendment to the Regional Plan’s conservation design development agreement policies to specifically reference the Important and Essential Corridors shown on Map 5 .
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