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Conserving Canada’s Wetlands

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Saskatchewan River Delta

One of the largest freshwater deltas in the world, the Saskatchewan River Delta (SRD) was formed during the retreat of glacial Lake Agassiz and has been shaped by the dynamic path of the Saskatchewan River. Straddling the Saskatchewan/Manitoba border, these boreal lowlands have been inundated with nutrient-rich sediment over the centuries. The sediment, which can be up to 18 metres thick in places, is another important reason for the productivity of the area.

Human activities such as hydroelectric-power generation and agriculture have also created change in the area. DUC began to play a major water-management role in the SRD in the 1940s in response to the prairie drought of the 1930s. We currently maintain 400,000 ha of habitat in the area, in co-operation with the Manitoba and Saskatchewan governments.

An area rich in culture and traditions, the SRD is also a birder’s paradise. Internationally recognized as an Important Bird Area (IBA), the sheer size of the SRD and the abundance of water make it an area of global importance to many breeding, staging and migrating water birds.

During times of drought in the prairies, the SRD becomes even more important to waterfowl, as it serves as a refuge for many drought-displaced birds. If climate change predictions come to pass, the SRD may become an even more important refuge in the future.

We are currently undergoing a four-year research project to gain a greater understanding of the delta. Although this research will only scratch the surface of this complicated ecosystem, it will further our knowledge of the dynamic functions of wet and dry cycles in the region.

Manitoba HydroManitoba Hydro‘s major gift support has been critical to our efforts at Sask River Delta.

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