February 1st 2014
When I lived in Canada between 1986 and 1995 I was fortunate to be active in protected area campaigns as a naturalist. This was a special time in Western Canada - many critical steps were taken to expand the protected area network. One of the many success stories from that time-period was work done to envision, organize, campaign and ultimately create a peri-urbant protected-area at Maplewood Flats in North Vancouver.
At the Flats we put on a fight - we were pitted against the Vancouver Port Corporation a big government authority that wanted to develop everything. The social and societal aspect of this grass-roots movement helped develop strong ties among locals, NGOs, and government: a win-win situation developed. The end result is the creation of a new small protected area, where an ambitious restoration project took place, at the edge of an industrial mega-harbour. The "Flats" has become an out-door school. It is now co-managed both by government and an industrious naturalist-run NGO, the Wild Bird Trust (WBT) of BC.
Maplewood Flats is important: An Important Bird Area where 246 species have been recorded, and a place to meet like-minded naturalists, to bring issues of wildlife and natural history to the for. A small nature house is being expanded to an interpretation center and a government environmental monitoring facility is also located on site. Wild Bird Trust, its passionate local volunteers, helps manage and contributes to wildlife monitoring.
On the first of February I participated on a bird survey that has been standardized and is a routine citizen science contribution for nearly 20 years now. I spotted 36 species during the two hour walk - but was mostly talking to old friends and new friends who are really excellent naturalists. I want to thank my old friend Kevin Bell, former curator of the Lynn Canyon Ecology Center, for being there for Maplewood Flats. And for contributing so passionately to local natural history culture.
UPDATE: Many years later the history of the area is still told in the papers (some historic facts skewed): http://www.nsnews.com/community/deep-cove-crier/for-the-birds-saving-maplewood-mudflats-1.6508067