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DUC urging New Brunswickers to speak out in support of wetland policy

In Atlantic Canada, 65% of salt marshes have been altered, degraded or destroyed. In the Upper Bay of Fundy region, this number reaches 85%.

Fredericton, NB, February 25, 2011 – Wetlands, development and New Brunswick’s wetland policy are at the top of mind for many New Brunswickers these days.

The New Brunswick Department of Environment has developed a map, indicating the location of New Brunswick’s wetlands. Some controversy has come into play with one of the mapping layers, called the Wetland Predictive Layer. This mapping layer shows where wetlands could potentially exist, due to the geographical features of the land or proximity of the water table to the ground surface. The layer was put in place as an informational tool for developers, so that prior to purchasing land for development, they will be able to see if the land may be prone to flooding. Should the developer wish to proceed, a land analysis would need to take place. Developers have come out against this, stating that it will hinder development in the province.

According to Tom Duffy, DUC’s provincial manager for Atlantic Canada, “in the past few weeks, there has unfortunately been a significant amount of inaccurate information floating about in the media. People are unsure as to what New Brunswick’s policy means for them and for their properties. And without answers, it is all too easy for fear and misinformation to take root.”

That’s why DUC wants to set the record straight.

“In our interaction with New Brunswickers through our conservation program, our education program or our volunteer-led fundraising program, the message we hear is consistent: the Wetland Conservation Policy is very important, and the conservation community, industry groups and government need to work together to successfully implement the policy,” Duffy says. “That is the key principle with which we must move forward. We urge Minister Blaney to meet with developers and members of the conservation community to address these issues and to develop solutions for the implementation of the policy and of the new mapping tool.”

Here are some facts about New Brunswick’s wetland policy:

Contrary to what some are saying, wetland conservation does not hurt development. The existing wetlands policy has been in place for almost 10 years. And yet, record development is taking place in Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John. In Fredericton, the construction of new homes and businesses, as well as new industrial and commercial buildings, resulted in a record $168M worth of development activity in 2010. In Moncton, the total value of building permits issued in 2009 reached a record high of $217M, exceeding by more than $66M the previous annual record of $151M set in 2006. In Saint John, seven projects, worth over $200 million dollars, took place in 2010.

“It is crucial for New Brunswickers to place a priority on protecting our province’s wetlands – without them, we are only harming ourselves,” Duffy says. “Wetlands not only provide habitat to a multitude of species, but they also filter the water that we drink and help to protect our homes and businesses from flooding – flooding which has cost New Brunswick approximately $84 million since the year 2000.”

Sadly, our society as a whole does not have a tradition of valuing wetlands. Over 70% of Canada’s wetlands have been lost in settled areas of the country. In Atlantic Canada, 65% of salt marshes have been altered, degraded or destroyed. In the Upper Bay of Fundy region, this number reaches 85%.

A solid wetland conservation policy is absolutely crucial, if we are to have any hope of stemming this loss.

“Ducks Unlimited Canada remains committed to working with the government of New Brunswick to protect our province’s wetlands, and to develop policies that protect New Brunswickers, all while facilitating sustainable development,” Duffy notes. “This can and should be a win-win situation for everybody, with both short and long-term gain – we just have to be mindful, educate ourselves, and keep looking at the big picture.”

Every day we allow wetlands to be lost, we significantly harm our environment. Wetland loss is an important issue to all New Brunswickers and our government needs to hear from you. “If you only do one thing for the environment in your lifetime, speak out and help conserve New Brunswick’s wetlands. Wetlands provide many benefits to all New Brunswickers, but unfortunately these important ecosystems are lost every day,” said Duffy.

The Honourable Margret Ann Blaney, Minister of Environment, will be consulting with residents over the coming weeks to get a better sense of the importance of the New Brunswick Wetland Conservation Policy. DUC encourages residents come out to support this conservation policy and encourage the Minister to find solutions for its effective implementation.

Help to save wetlands and their important functions by contacting the New Brunswick Department of Environment or by attending one of these public meetings being held in various communities across the province:

Feb. 28 – 9-11am Saint John – Lily Lake Pavilion, Wallace-MacMurry Room,55 Lake Dr. S.
Feb. 28 – 2:30-4:30pm Moncton – Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick, Dieppe campus, auditorium,505 du Collège St.
Mar. 1 – 9-11am Miramichi – Rodd Miramichi River Hotel, Cains Room 1809 Water St.
Mar. 2 – 10:30-12:30pm Tracadie-Sheila – Town Hall, 3620 Principale St.
Mar. 2 – 7-9pm Campbellton – Campbellton Civic Centre, Banquet Room, 44 Salmon Blvd.
Mar. 3 – 9:30-11:30am Edmundston – Université de Moncton, Edmundston campus, Amphithéâtre Louis-A.-Lebel, 165 Hébert Blvd.
Mar. 3 – 1-3pm Grand Falls – Town Hall, 131 Pleasant St., Suite 200
Mar. 4 – 10-12pm Fredericton – Killarney Lake Lodge, Rotary Room, 1600 St. Mary’s St.
Mar. 10 – 2-4pm Woodstock – Royal Canadian Legion, 109 Carleton St.


For more information, contact:

Krista Elliott, k_elliott@ducks.ca
Communications Coordinator
Ducks Unlimited Canada
Tel: (902) 667-8726 ext 227