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Ducks Unlimited Canada poised to help deliver on COP26 climate commitments
Conservation efforts in key landscapes deliver important nature-based climate solutions
Now that COP26 has come to a close, work must begin on implementing the plans agreed upon by world leaders in the newly minted Glasgow Climate Pact. Here in Canada, the country’s leading conservation organization has a running start. Ducks Unlimited Canada’s (DUC) well-established work in key, carbon-rich landscapes is delivering the kind of nature-based solutions needed to achieve the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Section four of the pact recognizes the need for mitigation and emphasizes the importance of “protecting, conserving and restoring nature and ecosystems … including through forests and other terrestrial and marine ecosystems acting as sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases and by protecting biodiversity while ensuring social and environmental safeguards.”
DUC is well-poised to answer this call. Earlier this year, DUC was the largest recipient in the first round of funding from the Government of Canada’s new Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund. The organization will receive $39.2 million to conserve and restore wetlands and grasslands across Canada.
“Climate mitigation and adaptation is now a core element of our habitat conservation programming,” says Larry Kaumeyer, DUC’s chief executive officer. “For more than 80 years, Ducks Unlimited Canada has been working with governments, landowners, Indigenous Peoples, and industry to develop comprehensive, science-based solutions to conservation challenges. Looking ahead, one of our greatest opportunities exists in the boreal region of the country where large areas of wetlands remain intact.”
Last week, Kevin Smith, DUC’s national manager of boreal programs, spoke to COP26 delegates and the public as part of a national panel on Canada’s peatlands. He shared research that showed how these carbon-rich wetland ecosystems, which are scattered throughout the boreal region, are a nature-based solution to climate change and deserve enhanced protection.
“Given that Canada has one-quarter of the world’s carbon stored in its peatIands, and if Canada is going to reach net zero by 2050, we need effective nature-based climate solutions that keep the legacy carbon in the ground and peatlands continuing to sequester carbon,” Smith says. “Canada has an opportunity to show global leadership and real progress towards collective climate goals.”
DUC is already making significant progress: more than 135.6 million acres have already been positively influenced in the boreal region to date, with the goal of conserving at least 660 million acres in the next 10 years. Projects such as the creation of the 10,000 square-kilometre Indigenous Protected Area Ts’udé Nilįné Tuyeta near Fort Good Hope, N.W.T. are an example of the boreal program’s role in uniting Indigenous communities, government and other land users in supporting collaborative management and protection of these ecologically indispensable regions.
However, according to Smith, protection is only part of the puzzle. Sustainable land management and knowledge sharing are also key pieces needed to reach Canada—and the world’s—climate action goals.
“Sustainable land management can happen in a number of ways,” says Smith. “This includes influencing higher certification standards for industries operating in boreal peatlands and forests, establishing direct industry conservation partnerships, and influencing the adoption of codes of practice, policies and regulation that help to maintain peatland function.”
DUC steps up in these areas as well, offering services to land managers and owners, and equipping them with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions on land use. Practitioner guides such as the Guiding Principles for Wetland Stewardship and Forest Management, and Wetland Best Management Practices for Forest Management Planning & Operations were created by DUC’s boreal program as the result of collaborative knowledge-sharing, and cumulative research on these sensitive areas, which Smith hopes will help with understanding the importance and value of these areas.
“Conducting and leveraging research is critical for the development of nature-based climate solutions, as is raising awareness of the importance and role of peatlands in mitigating climate change,” says Smith.
DUC’s conservation efforts will continue to be critical in Canada’s commitment to the global community and our role in the current climate crisis, and in elevating the importance of Canada’s boreal region, a national treasure that should be guarded with great care.
Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) is the leader in wetland conservation. A registered charity, DUC partners with government, industry, non-profit organizations, Indigenous Peoples and landowners to conserve wetlands that are critical to waterfowl, wildlife and the environment. To learn more about DUC’s innovative environmental solutions and services, visit www.ducks.ca
National Boreal Program, Ducks Unlimited Canada