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Ducks Unlimited Canada to help shape the future of healthy watersheds in B.C.
Surrey, British Columbia – In response to climate change and extreme weather events, the Government of B.C. is looking for ways to boost the protection and restoration of B.C.’s watersheds. Today, the Province took an important step with the release of its Watershed Security Strategy and discussion paper. It’s a document that includes conservation advice from Ducks Unlimited Canada.
The discussion paper explores key issues including climate change, wildlife habitats, sources of drinking water, as well as community and economic stability. Sarah Nathan, Ducks Unlimited Canada’s manager of provincial operations for British Columbia, was on hand for the event. She joined George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, at a virtual announcement to discuss the critical role wetlands play in the health and security of watersheds across the province.
Referencing the gamut of floods, droughts, wildfires and debris flows that devastated the province this past year, Nathan stressed that protecting and bolstering wetlands is a must.
“Because of their capacity to absorb and store excess water, wetlands play a key role in mitigating extreme weather events,” said Nathan. “We look forward to sharing our science about wetlands and watersheds, and engaging with the ministry to help keep our communities safe and healthy.”
Minister Heyman, the MLA for Vancouver-Fairview, said climate change and cumulative human impacts are threatening the health of the watersheds which has a direct impact on drinking water, food production, local economies and the health of aquatic ecosystems. He said the discussion paper outlines key strategic themes for safeguarding B.C.’s watersheds and builds on the important work many communities are doing to protect and restore their local watersheds.
“We need to ensure healthy watersheds for strong communities and ecological health, so we are collaborating with Indigenous Peoples and all British Columbians to build a legacy of healthy rivers, lakes, streams and aquifers for our children and grandchildren.”
People are now invited to provide input about the ideas and options presented in the discussion paper.
In addition to mitigating floods within river floodplains, improving water quality by filtering out pollutants and keeping water on the landscape during drought conditions,
Nathan also stressed the vital role wetlands play alongside B.C.’s estuaries. While estuaries make up less than three per cent of the province’s coastline, they play an essential role in a vast number of coastal wildlife species. Some of these species, including the Chinook salmon, are seeing significant declines.
Nathan said DUC is keen to collaborate with the Province, First Nations, and other stakeholders to develop and deliver the outcomes described in the Watershed Security Strategy discussion paper. She points to DUC’s combination of biological, engineering and hydrological knowledge gained from delivering complex wetland projects in B.C.
DUC has 578 projects and has conserved and restored more than 180,000 hectares in B.C.
These habitat conservation successes are a testament to DUC’s long track record of collaborating with governments and other partners when dealing with wetland and water conservation. Nathan says she sees several opportunities to enhance watershed security in B.C. by supporting wetland habitats, including:
- Developing a policy framework for no-net-loss of wetland habitat in B.C.
- Collaborating to rebuild DUC’s engineered wetlands, where they provide important contributions to watershed security across the province, as a cost-effective means of enhancing watershed security at a large scale.
- Streamlining regulatory processes to facilitate projects that contribute to watershed security.
- Funding and supporting collaborative landscape-scale wetland projects that bring together multiple interests to help watershed security.
The Province’s Watershed Security Strategy will align with several government commitments, including development of coastal and wild salmon strategies, work on drinking water, modernized land-use planning, and the Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy. The ministries of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, and Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development also have key roles in managing water resources.
To share your thoughts about development of the strategy, visit:
Written submissions can also be made by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about B.C.’s Water Sustainability Act, visit: