As promised in my two previous blogs for Bird Canada, here is the second instalment on Vancouver’s Stanley Park. This time around, I will focus mostly on the history and activities of the Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES), especially with respect to bird conservation and research programs.
To begin, a bit of history: The society’s original name was the Stanley Park Zoological Society and was established as a registered charity in 1988. When the park’s zoo closed in 1995, the society changed its name, but continued to run a variety of educational, conservation and outreach programs.
In June 1997, SPES concluded a Joint Operating Agreement with the Vancouver Park Board, becoming “the primary provider of land-based education interpretive services in the park.” (Source)
As indicated on SPES’s “Our Mission and Vision” webpage, “Stanley Park is a model representing harmony between nature and people, inspiring and empowering communities to make choices that sustain healthy ecosystems.” For its part, SPES “promotes awareness of and respect for the natural world and plays a leadership role in the stewardship of Stanley Park through collaborative initiatives in education, research and conservation.”
SPES funds its activities through grants, memberships, program revenues and service fees. It also relies on a significant number of committed volunteers, as well as passionate staff and dedicated board members, not to mention the support of local businesses and foundations.
As mentioned earlier, SPES runs several research and conservation programs in and outside of the park. Aside from its popular “Co-Existing with Coyotes” program, the society also runs several programs counting and studying birds, including a long-term study of the park’s large Great Blue Heron colony and a recent report on Vancouver’s Bald Eagle nests.
For my part, I have been particularly involved in various bird monitoring programs run by SPES. Some general information on birding in the park, including an informative video by SPES’s Conservation Officer and “Chief Birder” (I just invented the second title!) Robyn Worcester, may be found here. Birding activities run by SPES include their monthly bird counts (you may read about the March 2013 count on my personal blog), which have been held regularly since 2006, not to mention the yearly Winter Waterfowl Blitz (held in November) and Breeding Bird Survey (in the spring).
I will end my blog by stating quite simply that Stanley Park is one of the great places to do birding in North America, in large part because of SPES’s excellent research and monitoring programs, not to mention their tireless work to educate the public about the natural world.