New report signifies a big step toward wetland conservation in Ontario
DUC co-chairs panel providing recommendations for the development of an Ontario wetland offsetting policy.
On May 7, the report, Considerations for the Development of a Wetland Offsetting Policy for Ontario: A Report of the Wetland Conservation Strategy Advisory Panel, was submitted to the Honourable Nathalie Des Rosiers, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.
The Wetland Conservation Strategy Advisory Panel was established in November 2017 to bring together Indigenous communities and an array of industry and non-government organizations, and provide joint recommendations to the Minister for the development of a wetland offsetting policy for Ontario.
“We applaud the Province of Ontario for empowering the Panel to come up with a solid report,” says Lynette Mader, Manager of Provincial Operations – Ontario for Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) and co-chair of the Panel. “The dedication and commitment of the panel members really showed in the way they pulled together to produce quality input in such a short amount of time. We were really under tight timelines!”
DUC has long advocated for stronger wetland policy in Ontario to provide higher protection and require any inevitable wetland losses to be offset. DUC understood that such an initiative would require broad stakeholder support and the expertise of organizations that operate within the world of environmental regulations.
Starting in 2015, DUC reached out to the Ontario Home Builders’ Association, Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Ontario Waterpower Association, Canadian Wind Energy Association and the Canadian Solar Industries Association to work together to ask the Minister for an opportunity to provide input into the development of a mitigation compensation hierarchy, as outlined in the discussion paper, Wetland Conservation in Ontario (2015), by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).
DUC also met with conservation authorities and environmental non-government organizations, and participated in a series of workshops hosted by Ontario Nature on the subject of biodiversity offsetting.
In July 2017, the Minister released A Wetland Conservation Strategy for Ontario: 2017-2030 and announced the advisory Panel, with DUC and Conservation Ontario ultimately named as co-chairs. Concurrently, the Province of Ontario committed to a $1.9 million investment in wetland conservation to be delivered by DUC and partners.
The Panel, in just five face-to-face meetings, reached consensus on guiding principles and recommendations, each grounded in the firm belief that wetlands are an integral part of Ontario’s landscape and that offsetting should only be considered when all aspects of a mitigation sequence – avoidance, minimization and mitigation – have been met.
“It just goes to show what Ontarians can do,” says Mader, “when given the opportunity and support to provide meaningful input.”
Wetland Conservation Strategy Advisory Panel members include:
Ducks Unlimited Canada, Conservation Ontario, Chiefs of Ontario, Environmental Defence, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Ontario Home Builders’ Association, Ontario Nature, Ontario Power Generation, Ontario Sand, Stone and Gravel Association, Ontario Water Power Association, City of Ottawa, Temagami First Nation.
Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) is the leader in wetland conservation. A registered charity, DUC partners with government, industry, non-profit organizations and landowners to conserve wetlands that are critical to waterfowl, wildlife and the environment.
Joanne Barbazza, Head of Communications and Outreach Support