Biosecurity Planning for Important Bird Areas of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, Canada
Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, Canada, is an isolated marine archipelago, renowned for its rugged coastline, temperate rainforest landscape, and distinct flora and fauna that have evolved during 14,000 years of isolation from the mainland.
Approximately 1.5 million seabirds from 13 species nest on more than 200 offshore islands, islets, and rocks in the Haida Gwaii Archipelago. Given the abundance of seabirds breeding on Haida Gwaii, Birdlife International (www.birdlife.org) has designated 19 locations as globally important bird areas (IBAs). The IBA program is a science-based initiative that monitors and conserves the world’s most important places for birds and biodiversity.
Invasive Alien Species (IAS), specifically predatory mammals including rats and raccoons, represent the greatest threat to burrow-nesting seabirds on IBAs, yet are one of the most manageable of all risks to breeding seabirds. Invasive predators can move between islands both naturally (swimming) and/or through anthropogenic means, presenting a risk of incursion onto islands that are predator free and support seabird colonies. Preventing invasive predators from establishing on seabird breeding islands (biosecurity) is a key conservation strategy.
Invasive species eradications for the purpose of wildlife and habitat conservation have become an important management tool, particularly for island restoration projects targeting invasive vertebrate species. To date, more than 1300 whole-island invasive animal eradications have been carried out worldwide with a success rate of 80%; more than half of these have targeted rats. The complete removal of IAS allows native plants and animals to return to their native state, restoring the ecosystem balance.
Although IAS eradication is a critical step in the process of seabird colony recovery and ecosystem restoration, the development of a biosecurity plan that contains strategies to detect and prevent an incursion or (re)invasion is ultimately of greater importance to ensure long term protection of seabirds and island ecosystems. Island biosecurity is comprised of three primary components: prevention, detection, and response. These components must be implemented together and regularly audited in order to prevent, or to rapidly respond to, an IAS (re)invasion.
Coastal Conservation is working with Bird Studies Canada to plan and implement biosecurity actions for several Haida Gwaii Important Bird Areas, including the development of
- general biosecurity guidelines for Haida Gwaii IBAs;
- specific prevention, detection, and response measures for invasive rats, mice, and racoons for high priority IBA islands; and
- stakeholder overview documents that outline the biosecurity needs for a particular IBA, define who is accountable for undertaking specific actions to protect, detect, and respond to an incursion, and set priorities for how these strategies and actions are to be executed.
Each of these activities is crucial to the protection of IBAs from the negative impacts of introduced mammals.
- Biosecurity Planning for Important Bird Areas of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, Canada
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Coastal Conservation is comprised of staff and technical advisors with significant expertise in biological systems and invasive species eradications around the world.Read More