Conservation of freshwater turtles in the anthropocene: indigenous-engaged approaches to tackle a timeless problem

Meng, L.R., Lehman, J., Isaac, C., Sandy T., Fredericks, L., Nahwegahbow, K., McGregor, S. and Chow-Fraser, P.
IN: Wildlife Conservation and Management in the 21st Century--Issues, Solutions and New Concepts.
2024, Alpha Wildlife Publications. p. 215-228


Critically important to the long-term success in management and conservation of freshwater turtle populations is the engagement of all stakeholders and rightsholders from the beginning of the project, particularly when the target species use habitat on public, private, and Indigenous lands. Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) populations endangered in Canada and along the eastern and northern shores of Mnidoo Gamii (Georgian Bay, Lake Huron, Canada) are assessed as threatened provincially. We present 2 ongoing conservation projects focused on the recovery and protection of the Blanding’s turtle, one within Whitefish River First Nation located at the northern shore of Mnidoo Gamii, and the other in Moose Deer Point First Nation located along the eastern shore of Mnidoo Gamii, located in Ontario. We adopted principles of the two-eyed seeing approach by considering the needs of the community and research priorities equally, and by weaving Indigenous Knowledge (IK) and Western Science (WS) in planning field activities. In both case studies, we used ArcGIS Online surveys to collect data, collaborate on field work, attend community meetings, and conduct informal interviews/discussions with community members to optimize knowledge weaving. We highlight opportunities, methods, and successes in our collaborations to provide an elevated understanding of how IK holders and WS researchers can design effective long-term conservation of species at-risk to combat ongoing biodiversity loss.