“We’re one conservation community.”
It was a simple but powerful statement. As Robert McLean stood before friends and colleagues from across the continent to accept his induction into the North American Waterfowl Conservation Honour Roll, truer words were never spoken.
The storybook backdrop of the surrounding Oak Hammock Marsh, made complete by the chatter of thousands of birds prepping for fall migration, was inspiring proof. McLean and other conservationists like him have rallied together for the greater good of wildlife and wild places because these are resources we share. But perhaps more importantly, because they believe these are responsibilities we share.
On Wednesday, September 7, 2016, McLean and fellow conservationist Bruce Batt were recognized by DUC for their outstanding contributions to the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP). Now in its 30th year, this plan is regarded as the most successful conservation initiative in the world.
In keeping with McLean’s sentiment, the NAWMP’s longevity is largely attributed to its partnership approach. It brings together federal, provincial and municipal governments, non-governmental organizations, private companies and many individuals in a collective effort to achieve healthy wetland habitat for the benefit of waterfowl, wildlife and people. The Honour Roll celebrates people like McLean and Batt who have devoted their lives and careers to upholding the ideals of the plan, while ensuring it remains relevant in an ever-changing world.
“Throughout their lives and careers, both have been trailblazers, ambassadors, colleagues and mentors,” said Karla Guyn, acting CEO for Ducks Unlimited Canada, during the induction ceremony. “Today, we honour both of you for your incredible contributions to the success of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan in Canada, but also for your important place within the continent’s larger conservation community.”
McLean is currently the director general, assessment and regulatory affairs directorate at Canadian Wildlife Service. DUC president Jim Couch praised him as being “a steady and dependable conservation force in Canadian government for decades.” Throughout his long career, McLean has played key leadership roles in a number of conservation initiatives related to migratory birds. This includes serving as an active Co-Chair of the NAWMP Committee, leading the Canadian Wildlife Service’s commitment to the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, and serving at various times on the boards of all Canadian NAWMP habitat Joint Ventures.
Batt, said Couch, is a “legendary figure in the Ducks Unlimited world,” who is recognized as one of the world’s leading thinkers and practitioners in the field of waterfowl biology, conservation and graduate student research. He served as program leader for the Delta Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Station in Manitoba in the 1970s and 80s during the peak of the station’s long history of scientific research, and in 1991 became the founding Director of the Institute for Wetland and Waterfowl Research at Ducks Unlimited, Inc. in the United States. Batt later served many years as DU Inc.’s Chief Biologist and was involved at the very beginning of the NAWMP in Canada.
As letters of congratulations from conservation leaders from across North America were read and stories recounted about the lessons and memories shared with these two conservation greats, it became clear that the success the North American Waterfowl Management Plan goes far beyond strategy and implementation. Its true power stems from the people who bring it to life.
Every year, as waterfowl wing their way through Oak Hammock Marsh and over the North American Waterfowl Conservation Honour Roll plaque that bears their names, the whistle of wingbeats and their calls overhead will pay respect to the efforts of people like Robert McLean and Bruce Batt. Congratulations – there could not be a more fitting tribute.
DUC created the North American Waterfowl Conservation Honour Roll to recognize individuals who have made unique and significant contributions to the success of the NAWMP in Canada. Inductees include:
- Gary Myers (2009)
- John Frampton (2010)
- James Patterson (2010)
- Ken Cox (2011)
- Wayne MacCallum (2011)
- George Finney (2012)
- Harvey Nelson (2012)
- D. Stewart Morrison (2013)
- Matthew Connolly (2013)
- Rollin D. Sparrowe (2014)
- Stephen Wendt (2014)
- Michael (Mike) Anderson (2015)
- Richard Yancey (2015)
- Robert McLean (2016)
- Bruce Batt (2016)