Woodlands for Wildlife Program

Woodlands for Wildlife is a 3-year program being piloted by MTRI that uses annual financial incentives and landowner recognition to encourage the protection of significant habitat for species at risk on private woodlands in southwest Nova Scotia. The program currently applies to a total of 20 at-risk birds, turtles, lichens, and tree species and works with woodland owners to establish effective buffers around significant species at risk habitat, in addition to a series of species-specific beneficial management practices, such as limiting silviculture and road maintenance during critical breeding seasons. 

Southwest Nova Scotia has been designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and Priority Place due to its unique value for biodiversity, supporting over 75% of the provinces' species at risk. With private woodlands comprising over 50% of the forested land in southwest Nova Scotia, the stewards of these woodlands represent an important and powerful force in species at risk conservation. Incentive programs have been quite successful in the agricultural industry and in other parts of the world for species at risk conservation. Finding new ways of partnering with woodland owners in species at risk conservation efforts is therefore a high priority. 

For more information about the Woodlands for Wildlife Program and how to qualify, contact wfw@merseytobeatic.ca

Nova Scotia Lichens at Risk

Lichen monitoring at MTRI began with the Boreal felt lichen in 2008 and working with industry and government partners to reduce threats to host trees from Cape Breton County to Shelburne County. Since then other lichens have been determined to be at risk by COSEWIC. These include: Vole ears lichen, White-rimmed shingle lichen, Blue felt lichen, Scaly fringe lichen, Eastern waterfan lichen, Frosted glass whiskers lichen, Black foam lichen and Wrinkled shingle lichen. These lichens and others not designated at risk by COSEWIC (Poor mans shingle lichen, Powdered moon lichen, Hibernia Jellyskin lichen) are managed on crown land by the Nova Scotia Special Management Practice (SMP) for lichens. MTRI began long term survivor monitoring for Vole Ears in 2015 and survivorship and threats monitoring for all other at risk lichen species starting in 2021. MTRI is also working with small woodlot owners to identify and preserve lichens on private land.


Hibernating bats used to fill the night skies of Nova Scotia, but in 2011 their populations dropped suddenly because of a new fungal disease, white-nose syndrome. Bats are crucial mammals in our native ecosystems and provide many services to our society. Each night they consume massive amounts of insects, pollinate flowers, and spread plant seeds. Since their decline, MTRI has been monitoring, researching and teaching Nova Scotians all about the wonders of bats. We also manage the Nova Scotia Bat Hotline and use this information to identify nesting colonies and work with the private landowners and partners to monitor these sites.

Blanding`s Turtle

Blanding's Turtles have a gentle and curious demeanour that quickly captures the heart of everyone who meets them. They are endangered in Nova Scotia and there are only 500 adults left in 4 different populations across the province. MTRI works with other organizations and governments to protect nests from predators, monitor populations, and follow up on public sightings to find potential new populations. The Blanding's Turtle has long been associated with our organization and we will continue working hard to preserve and restore them. 

Eastern Ribbonsnake

Snakes usually give people the creeps, but Nova Scotia’s native species are far from scary. Like all snakes in the province, the Eastern Ribbonsnake is harmless and non-venomous. This small and cautious species is Threatened in Nova Scotia as well as Canada and its range is limited to the interior of Southwest Nova Scotia. MTRI is dedicated to studying the Eastern Ribbonsnake to find out where they live, how its populations are doing, what factors are threatening it and working to make sure it is around for many generations to come.  

Monarch Butterfly

It is a hard to find a more charismatic species than the mighty Monarch Butterfly. Every year this species migrates 5000km+ from its wintering grounds in Mexico to the US and Canada. Sadly, this world traveler is Endangered in Nova Scotia, and their population is declining. Many factors are behind this but the most significant are the widespread use of pesticides and the loss of their habitat. MTRI is a leader in Monarch engagement with the public; we organize the provincial milkweed monitoring project, teach schoolchildren about this and other native pollinators and supply nurseries with seeds to grow their host plant, Milkweed. For more information on how you can get involved or to report sightings, contact monarchs@merseytobeatic.ca.

Become a part of the milkweed monitoring project! Click on the following link for the training module and find all the materials you need to complete milkweed surveys: Survey Materials

Join the iNaturalist project to monitor Monarchs in Nova Scotia: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/nova-scotia-monarch-monitoring

Barn Swallows

Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute (MTRI) in partnership with Birds Canada is promoting the monitoring of Barn Swallow nests in Nova Scotia using the Birds Canada Project, Project Nest Watch. We promote stewardship by providing education and increased public awareness of the Barn Swallow in the province. MTRI is encouraging Barn swallow enthusiasts through social media posts to participate by using our online survey form. The objective of our outreach is to increase the number of monitored Barn Swallow nests so that we can better understand overall productivity and populations size. If you are interested in becoming a Barn swallow monitoring volunteer, please see the survey form link below.

Barn Swallow Volunteer Data Form

Questionnaire sur l'hirondell rustique

Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora

The Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora are a unique group of plants that share a range along the eastern seaboard between the Atlantic Ocean and Appalachian mountains. The ranges of about one hundred of these plants extend into Nova Scotia where they occupy a variety of habitats from Lakeshore, Bogs, Forests Saltmarshes and Dunes.

Eastern Mountain Avens

In 2012 MTRI and partners initiated a project to monitor the threats and population trends of Eastern Mountain Avens (Geum peckii) on Brier Island and Digby Neck. The global range of this species is Digby Neck/Brier Island and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Since 2012 Provincial, Federal and NGO partners, informed by ongoing Academic studies, have managed a large-scale restoration of Big Meadow Bog on Brier Island.