Natural areas of Canadian Forces Base Shilo recognized as an OECM

Government of Canada
Published: 20 October 2021
Last edited: 20 October 2021
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Summary

The Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Shilo is located in the mixed-grass prairie ecosystem of south-central Manitoba and is controlled by Canada’s Department of National Defence. While it is managed primarily for defence, CFB Shilo has specific secondary objectives focused on the conservation of biodiversity.

 

While portions of CFB Shilo have infrastructure and high human traffic, there are areas on the base that are largely natural habitats and which support diverse plant and wildlife communities. These natural areas were collaboratively assessed by the federal Department of National Defence and the provincial (sub-national) Government of Manitoba. They were found to meet all necessary conditions to be reported as an Other Effective Conservation Measure (OECM) and were reported by the Government of Manitoba for inclusion in the Canadian protected and conserved areas database.

 

CFB Shilo is the first Canadian military base recognized as a part of the Canadian protected and conserved areas network.

Classifications

Region
North America
Scale of implementation
National
Subnational
Ecosystem
Grassland ecosystems
Temperate grassland, savanna, shrubland
Theme
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Ecosystem services
Land management
Outreach & communications
Protected and conserved areas management planning
Species management
Challenges
Drought
Loss of Biodiversity
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Sustainable development goals
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas

Location

Shilo, Municipality of North Cypress – Langford, Manitoba, Canada

Challenges

The Government of Canada sees great value in recognizing good land stewardship that contributes to biodiversity conservation. As such, it is seeking to recognize all areas that conserve in-situ biodiversity for the long term and meet the definition of an OECM. The challenges associated with doing so include: 

Communication - what is an OECM?

  • The concept of an OECM is not yet widely understood. There is often the misconception that these areas have lower value for conservation or may be mistakenly perceived as a 'protected area light'. 

Helping partners understand the value of recognizing an OECM

  • This challenge is linked to the communication challenge. Partners may want to know why they should support recognizing an area as an OECM. They may ask 'what's in it for me?'. 
  • Similarly, partners may mistakenly worry that they will lose certain land-use rights through this recognition. 

 

    Beneficiaries

    • The Canadian Department of National Defence and Government of Manitoba are recognized for good land stewardship.

       

    • The species and natural ecosystems allowed to thrive and the surrounding communities that benefit from locally intact ecosystems

    How do the building blocks interact?

    In Canada, for lands to be recognized nationally as ‘protected or conserved’, provincial or territorial (sub-national) governments must recognize them and submit them for inclusion in the Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database. This requires significant communication, information sharing and a common understanding of the importance of recognizing conservation efforts. Communication and partnership are key!

     

    This need for collaboration becomes even more apparent when exploring atypical conservation mechanisms given that new solutions require new conversations and often new partners. The Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces put a high priority on environmental stewardship. While not the primary purpose of CFB Shilo, these conservation efforts contribute to positive biodiversity outcomes and deserve recognition.

     

    The natural areas of CFB Shilo count towards sub-national, national and international area-based conservation targets. Public recognition of this military base as an OECM increases public awareness that landowners beyond traditional conservation agencies can be recognized for their conservation outcomes.

    Impacts

    The Shilo training area is home to 17 species considered at risk including insects, grassland birds and the province's only lizard - the Prairie Skink. Canadian Forces Base Shilo biologists have documented 63 species of mammals, over 200 species of birds, 7 species of reptiles, 8 species of amphibians, and 450 species of flora.

     

    The recognition of Canadian Forces Base Shilo as an OECM has served as an example to assess, recognize the value of and potentially report areas with innovative or atypical conservation mechanisms.

     

    This recognition is highlighting the Department of National Defence’s  conservation efforts and successes. It has also strengthened the conservation dialogue between the federal Department of National Defence, the federal department of Environment and Climate Change, and the provincial (sub-national) Government of Manitoba.

     

    Story

    Government of Canada

    Located in the mixed-grass prairie ecosystem of south-central Manitoba, Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Shilo is controlled by Canada’s Department of National Defence. Approximately 211 km2 of the base are natural areas that support diverse plant and wildlife communities. This is the first Canadian military base recognized in Canada as an OECM, in keeping with national and international guidelines.

     

    The path to this international recognition for the CFB Shilo began locally with the provincial (sub-national) Government of Manitoba. Officials took a helicopter flight over the training area in 2015 as part of a separate initiative and were impressed by the intact prairie they saw. However, because the main objective of the site is not the conservation of nature, the area could not be recognized as a “protected area”.

     

    While portions of CFB Shilo with significant infrastructure and high human traffic do not meet the definition of an OECM, there are areas on the base that are largely natural habitat. These natural areas were assessed and found to meet all necessary conditions to be reported as an OECM. They were first reported to the national database on March 7th, 2019.

    Contributed by

    Courtney Robertson Department of Environment and Climate Change, Government of Canada