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Birds of a Feather:
The Reciprocal Benefits of protecting biodiversity

Date: August 24, 2018
Time: 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
COst: Free for congress delegates | 
$25 per person [public]


Explore human-avian relationships at this one-night-only event!  Midori Nicholson will demonstrate why birds are valuable coastal indicators and their significance in BC’s Kwakwaka’wakw culture. Our keynote speaker, 2017 Whitley Award-winner Purnima Barman, will share stories from the front lines of her research, advocacy, and outreach with Greater Adjutant Storks (Hargila) in India.


Purnima Barman - wildlife biologist

Purnima is a biologist working to conserve the endangered Greater Adjutant Stork in Assam, India. There are currently less than 1,200 of these stork left in the global population. It may be one of the homeliest birds you will ever see and has often been disdained by the public in the past. After recruiting over 10,000 people to save the species Purnima empowered 200 women as the Hargila Army ("Hargila" being the local name of Greater Adjutant) 

Purnima will be a Keynote Speaker at the IOCongress Women in Science Luncheon, taking place August 23, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM.
She will also be giving a public lecture for the Vancouver International Bird Festival & Stewardship Centre for BC detailing her conservation work. This takes place on August 24 from 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM. 

Through her work, Purnima has received multiple awards including:

  • UNDP India Biodiversity Award 2016
  • Royal Bank of Scotland Earth Hero Award 2016
  • Balipara Foundation Green Guru Award 2016
  • Whitley Award, aka the "Green Oscar" 2017
  • Nari Shakti  Purashkar 2017


Purnima Barman

One of the largest and rarest of storks, the Greater Adjutant Stork (Leptoptilos dubius) is resident to Assam, India. Due to habitat loss and poaching, it is an endangered species; globally only 1,200 Greater Adjutants remain and the numbers are declining. These storks, known as “hargila”, were regarded as scavengers and considered ‘dirty’. Since 2007, an initiative led by Purnima Devi Barman has developed as a revolutionary conservation movement. Identifying the core issues that lay behind the Greater Adjutant’s population decline, the initiative recognized the need for public participation and identification of nest tree owners for the storks. Amidst many challenges, the project has been successful in fostering a new sense of “ownership” for the hargila amongst local communities. One of the most successful steps has been the creation of a women’s group, known as the Hargila Army (Protector of Trees). By involving local village women, the stork has been seamlessly integrated into the local traditions and rituals. Other efforts include, variously, introducing wildlife laws in a positive way without conflict, raising awareness and a conservation module in local schools, and rescuing and rehabilitating fallen chicks. The local stork colony has increased in numbers from 28 (2007) to 171 (2014), with an average nest number of 150. Not a single nesting tree has been cut down since 2010.



midori nicolson - fisheries manager for the musgamagw dzawada'enuxw fisheries group

Midori has a B.Sc. from Simon Fraser University and is the Fisheries Manager for the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw Fisheries Group whose territory encompasses the Broughton Archipelago. She has also occupied a seat on the Dzawada’enuxw council in Kingcome Inlet since 2016. The focus of her work is to increase First Nations capacity & stewardship regarding traditional lands and aquatic resources. Over the past ten years she has worked as a consulting biologist, land and marine resources director, and a coastal planner for Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Ms. Nicolson will share stories of her work along the BC coast and the importance of why birds are valuable coastal indicators and their significance in Kwakwaka’wakw culture.