DUC’s current work is mostly on-the-ground, but we cannot affect enough area on a project-by-project basis. Water, wildlife and people depend on extensive areas that are changing in big ways. We cannot achieve our mission by doing the same things at a small scale while other factors continue to erode large areas of habitat.
That’s why our policy experts work with all levels of government—federal, provincial and municipal—to fight for conservation. Backed by sound science, a large network of Canadian supporters and a legacy of conservation success, we have the strength and credibility to influence meaningful change.
We appreciate the effort it takes to change public policy. We played a key role in the development of the Government of Canada’s recently announced National Conservation Plan (NCP). We were instrumental in developing provincial wetland legislation in Atlantic Canada, Manitoba and Alberta.
We know it takes years and considerable resources to get this important work done. More work is needed at federal, provincial and municipal levels to ensure public policy supports and furthers our conservation mission.
We plan to work with the Government of Canada to build on the achievements of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and deliver commitments outlined in the NCP.
We will continue collaborating with provincial governments to achieve effective wetland protection policies that recognize the economic and social benefits of wetland and to ensure land use policies at the municipal level protect wetlands. We will partner with industry on projects that support conservation efforts.
We believe it’s time the federal government recognizes the full value of wetlands to Canadians.
DUC supporters across the country know wetlands do far more than just provide habitat for waterfowl. They filter our air and water, keep harmful pollutants out of our watersheds and prevent dangerous algae blooms. They keep water on the landscape, helping to prevent droughts and mitigate the impacts of floods. Wetlands help to fight climate change, storing massive amounts of carbon. We ought to value these ecological services, recognize them as economic assets and protect them for the benefit of future generations—instead of treating them as impediments to economic growth and progress.
Funding for the restoration of lost or degraded wetlands on agricultural and other working lands is one of the most effective ways the federal government can assert the economic and ecological values of wetland habitat. Ottawa must provide greater financial support to increase the base of wetland habitats and compensate landowners for the direct economic values that these newly restored habitats provide to society.
We consistently hear from rural landowners across Canada that they want to engage in conservation work, but existing policies make it economically challenging for them. In many instance—as a result of weak or ineffective policies and a lack of economic support—it’s become easier to drain wetlands than to conserve them. That’s why we urgently need incentives like this to make sure wetlands stay on the landscape, for the sake of biodiversity and for the health and safety of our communities.
One of the most tangible examples of the value of wetlands is their ability to absorb water and reduce the impacts of severe weather. A University of Saskatchewan study from 2014 found wetland drainage in Saskatchewan’s Smith Creek watershed increased the water flows of the 2011 flood in that watershed by over 30 per cent.
Floods are devastating for Canada; they cost us billions of dollars in damage and lost productivity. The conventional solution is to have governments spend money exclusively on traditional bricks and mortar infrastructure. However, dams and diversion channels have negligible ecological value and are very expensive. We believe that by recognizing wetlands as “green or natural infrastructure” and by investing in wetland conservation as a tool to reduce the impacts of flooding, the federal government can both save money and protect biodiversity. The result is smart public policy, an efficient use of limited public funds, reduced impacts of severe weather, increased biodiversity including robust waterfowl populations. Win, win, win… and win.
Governments and DUC need accurate, up-to-date mapping and monitoring data to support effective planning and program decision making.
We urge our federal government to make comprehensive wetland mapping and monitoring a priority. Enhancing this framework would enable communities to smart and strategic land use planning decisions by helping developers identify and avoid critical habitat.
The Canadian Wetland Inventory (CWI) identifies and tracks the wetlands on the landscape, providing valuable data to governments, industry and the public. This information helps avoid and minimize the environmental impacts of development. A completed CWI would provide a strong baseline of information for wetlands from coast to coast.
See CWI in action in your area: To see if a wetland inventory has been completed or is in progress in your area, visit the interactive map at maps.ducks.ca/cwi. Explore the map tool to discover the different types of wetlands near you.
Take a stand and speak out for wetlands
Here are some suggestions on how to engage your local Member of Parliament.
- Tell them they have the opportunity, right now, to better conserve wetlands.
- Drop by their office for an informal conversation, bring the subject up at a local meeting or send them a letter.
- Introduce yourself as a DUC supporter.
- Tell them why you support us and why wetlands are important to you.
- Share your thoughts about why wetlands are important to all Canadians and should be important to government.
- Inform them of the impact of wetland loss on our wildlife, our water supply, and other resources is a concern.
By sharing your opinions and your passion for wetlands and Canada’s natural resources, all MPs will get the message that they must make a significant commitment to support the protection and restoration of Canada’s wetlands and effective wetland policy.
For more information, please contact:
James W. Brennan
Director of Government Affairs
Ducks Unlimited Canada
Office: (613) 565-2525
Cell: (613) 612-4469