Monday 5 September 2016

Community wide collaboration to help a species at risk - the Wood Turtle

About the Wood Turtle
The wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) is a medium-sized, semi aquatic turtle, ranging in size from 16 to 25 cm in length. The carapace is gray-brown in colour with a sculptured woody appearance, caused by pyramidial circular rings or growth lines. The plastron is yellow with a pattern of black or dark coloured blotches and has no hinge. The skin on the head and upper body of the wood turtle is often brown, while the skin on the throat, tail and undersides of the legs is often yellow, orange or red in colour. They are a long-lived species, reaching sexual maturity between the ages of 11 to 22. In the wild, wood turtles have an average lifespan of 30 years, compared to 50 years in captivity.
Wood turtles in Nova Scotia face a variety of natural and anthropogenic threats. Anthropogenic threats include accidental mortality as a result of vehicles or agriculture equipment, habitat loss and degradation, such as residential and commercial development, forestry practices, water management, and changes in ecological dynamics or natural process, such as subsidized predation (Environment Canada, 2015). In the Annapolis River watershed, which includes extensive road networks and a relatively large amount of land in agricultural production, accidental mortality as a result of collisions with vehicles or farming equipment are significant threats to wood turtles.
Species at risk status
In Canada, the wood turtle is currently listed as threatened under the Federal species at Risk Act (SARA). The wood turtle was first added to the SARA Registry in 1996 as a species of special concern, and re-examined and listed as threatened in Schedule 1 of SARA 2010.
Environment Canada (2015) has determined the recovery of the wood turtle in Canada to be both technically and biologically feasible. In 2015 a draft Recovery Strategy for the Wood Turtle in Canada was released. Once a final Recovery Strategy has been approved, Wood Turtle Action Plans will be posted to the Species at Risk Public Registry. These Action Plans are due for submission by 2020 and will guide conservation actions.
In Nova Scotia, the wood turtle was first listed under the Nova Scotia Endangered species act as vulnerable in 2000. After re-examination these designations are largely imparted because of the wood turtle's sensitivity to human activities and land use practices.
Wood  Turtle Monitoring and Stewardship in the Annapolis River Watershed
Since 2012 CARP has been implementing a wood turtle research and stewardship project. The overall goal of the Wood Turtle Monitoring and Stewardship project is to ensure the long-term persistence of the Wood Turtle  and its habitat in the Annapolis River watershed.
Collaborating with private land owners and managers
Stewardship plans are a key component of CARP’s wood turtle program. Turtles don’t know the difference between private land, Crown land, protected areas, or any of the other types of land management that humans use. If we want to see this species recover and thrive, we need to work collaboratively with private land owners and managers to ensure that their habitat is conserved.
Stewardship plans are based on a property specific assessment; during the assessment areas of habitat, as well as potential threats to habitat or wood turtles are identified. Stewardship plans provide recommendations to address any threats identified, and for maintaining or enhancing habitat.  Land use objectives are considered in the planning process, so that recommendations are as feasible as possible. Once a land owner/manager has reviewed the plan and provided any final feedback, a voluntary Stewardship Agreement is signed. These agreements allow CARP to demonstrate public engagement in the species at risk recovery process.
Lawrencetown Community Meeting
On Tuesday September 13 the Lawrencetown Library has kindly agreed to host a Community Wood Turtle Stewardship Meeting in Lawrencetown, from 7:00 – 8:00 PM at the Dr. Frank W Morse Library, 489 Main St., Lawrencetown. This meeting is an opportunity to learn about CARP’s stewardship program.
The Village of Lawrencetown has several areas of confirmed wood turtle habitat. There are several turtles known to nest, forage for food, and over-winter in this community.
Lawrencetown was Canada’s first community to become certified through Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Backyard Habitat program. We think there is great potential to build on this designation, to ensure that wood turtles are consider in how we use our landscape.
By targeting an entire community, CARP hopes to maximize the impact of our stewardship program. Having neighbouring properties all contributing to habitat stewardship will help to ensure landscape level habitat connectivity.
About the Clean Annapolis River Project
CARP is an environmental non-governmental organization with a mission to enhance the ecological health of the Annapolis River watershed through science, leadership and community engagement. We have an office in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. To contact the office: (902)-532-7533,








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