Projects & Initiatives

Bringing conservation to life in the Fraser River Estuary

DUC’s conservation approaches are helping combat the many threats facing Canada’s most important overwintering area for waterfowl.

Aerial view of the Fraser River Estuary

The Fraser River Estuary is a complex network of tidal marshes, channels, mudflats, sand flats and eelgrass meadows that spill into the Strait of Georgia. Located in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, the estuary runs through Delta, Richmond and Vancouver.

As the largest estuary in B.C., the Fraser River Estuary supports an abundance of wildlife: it is the main artery that feeds biodiversity on B.C.’s West Coast. Millions of waterfowl pass through on their migration journey and stop to winter and feed on the rich variety of insects and plants found in the estuary’s mudflats and tidal marshes.

And each spring, juvenile ocean-type Chinook salmon spend an average of 41 days in the estuary en route to the Pacific Ocean. The estuary is also the lifeblood for the endangered southern resident killer whales, which rely on adult Chinook salmon as their main food source.

But as each year passes, urban and industrial expansion continues to chip away at the estuary’s ability to sustain its diversity of life. Pollution, widespread dredging and diking, urban sprawl, climate change, and numerous large-scale current and future industrial developments, threaten the estuary’s capacity to support the biodiversity that depends on it.

migrating & wintering waterfowl 250 thousand
migrating shorebirds 100 million
of biodiverse habitats 51,106 acres
species at risk of extinction 102

DUC: Building natural alliances and implementing solutions in the Fraser River Estuary

We are applying our conservation knowledge to find solutions that will safeguard the vital habitats within this critical ecosystem.

From creating new tidal marsh habitat for spawning salmon, to restoring decades of lost tidal marsh vital to overwintering waterfowl, the Fraser River Estuary’s ability to flourish is helped by our ongoing commitment to on-the-ground conservation.

And, through our partnerships with government and other NGOs, we are looking to stem tidal marsh loss along the banks of the Fraser River Estuary and help lead further research as global warming and rising sea levels threaten the region.

Fraser River Estuary tidal marsh creation report - March 2022

Our in-depth report explores factors influencing the persistence of created tidal marshes in the Fraser River Estuary.

Fast Facts

Learn more about our work in the Fraser River Estuary

Our work of conserving, protecting and managing wetlands is needed to support this vital habitat. DUC is leading Fraser River Estuary Salmon Habitat (FRESH) Restoration Projects in partnership with Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Tsawwassen First Nation, and the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance.  

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