SEAN BLANEY

Track­ing the sta­tus of plants and an­i­mals in At­lantic Canada

Our Canada - - Our Travels -

Grow­ing up in Belleville, Sean Blaney de­vel­oped an in­tense in­ter­est in na­ture at a young age. To­day, Sean is one of Canada’s pre­em­i­nent botanists and all-around bi­ol­o­gists, able to iden­tify thou­sands of plant and an­i­mal species and to pro­vide en­cy­clo­pe­dic in­sights into their nat­u­ral his­tory.

“I re­mem­ber learn­ing to read at age four,” Sean says, “in part be­cause I knew the names of many dif­fer­ent birds. I could look at a bird­ing field guide and fig­ure out why G-R-A-C-K-L-E spelled grackle and S-T-A-R-L-I-N-G spelled star­ling. I be­came a pro­fi­cient birder through many fam­ily out­ings and later through per­sonal ex­plo­ration while in high school.”

Early in his ca­reer, Sean spent “eight happy sum­mers” as a pro­fes­sional nat­u­ral­ist in Al­go­nquin Pro­vin­cial Park. He earned a master’s de­gree in botany in 1999 and that year joined the At­lantic Canada Con­ser­va­tion Data Centre as its first se­nior botanist. Eigh­teen years later, he is now its ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and se­nior sci­en­tist. There, Sean leads the centre’s work in track­ing the sta­tus of the na­tive flora and fauna of At­lantic Canada. The centre is one of ten such or­ga­ni­za­tions across Canada—one in ev­ery other prov­ince and ter­ri­tory. They are na­tion­ally linked through Na­ture­serve Canada and con­nected to a net­work of con­ser­va­tion data cen­tres through­out the United States and else­where in the West­ern Hemi­sphere.

“I feel good,” says Sean, “about adding to the un­der­stand­ing of the species that share our land­scape, and putting that knowl­edge into a form that will serve con­ser­va­tion in­ter­ests for gen­er­a­tions to come. I be­lieve that if more people were ex­posed to the fas­ci­nat­ing beauty of bi­o­log­i­cal di­ver­sity in a deeper way, we would do a much bet­ter job of lim­it­ing the im­pacts of our way of life, our so­ci­etal foot­print.”

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