The Highland Habitats Health Check-up is a program that gives landowners knowledge and skills to help wildlife in their own properties.
The program involves 4 steps:
1) Pre-survey Assessment. In this step, we use aerial imagery to conduct a preliminary assessment of habitat connectivity on the property and the surrounding landscape. We then use species observation records to determine what species may be supported by the property. This information is then used to guide the subsequent steps in the Habitat Health Check process.
2) Interview. In this step, we discuss the landowners’ goals, priorities and plans for the maintenance and stewardship of their property including their current or planned land uses (recreational trails, logging, large gardens, etc.), species they would like to attract, their priorities for their land (attracting a wide variety of species, having a large lawn for kids or dogs to play, etc.), and any problems they would like addressed (invasive species, mosquitos, etc.). We then use the landowners’ goals and priorities as a framework around which we make all recommendations (in Step 4 – Report) for habitat improvement. That is, we recommend ways landowners can reach their goals in an ecologically beneficial way.
In this step, we also discuss the landowners’ current land stewardship and maintenance practices so as to identify the beneficial actions they are already taking, and any areas where there may be room for improvement. Topics discussed include: pesticide or fertilizer use, general backyard maintenance, night lighting, outdoor noise, pets and livestock, septic practices, wildlife interactions, and flooding.
3) Site visit. In this step, we tour the property with the landowner and complete a checklist on the various aspects and features of the land. The checklist evaluates the overall ecological value and health of the property, as well its potential to support common and at risk-species.
Sections of the checklist include (where applicable): Shoreline Habitat Assessment, Upland Habitat Assessment, Lowland Habitat Assessment, Turtle Habitat Assessment, Snake Habitat Assessment, Hog-nosed Snake Habitat Assessment, Bird Habitat Assessment, Bird Species-at-Risk Habitat Assessment, and Bat Habitat Assessment. Other aspects of habitat health assessed through the checklist include: habitat connectivity, the presence of beneficial features (natural and anthropogenic), animal evidence or sightings, and the abundance of snags and woody debris
4) Report. In this step, we use the information obtained in steps 1 through 3 to generate an individualized report for the landowner. The report outlines how the landowner can best address their land use priorities and goals in a way that benefits both them and the natural environment. The report also provides many supplemental resources where further information can be obtained and connects landowners with tax incentive programs they may qualify for.
Would you like to book a Habitat Health Check-up with us? Please complete the form here!
The program is offered for a nominal fee, for landowners across the region, while we have capacity — and with a mileage fee for areas far from our offices.
If you simply want help to design a shoreland naturalization project that suits your aesthetic and needs, visit our Shoreline Gardens page
These opportunities and activities have been generously supported by: