Originally published in the Telegraph-Journal on February 2, 2023
For years, locals have called the Sackville Waterfowl Park their community’s “crown jewel.” The 55-acre oasis boasts kilometres of accessible trails and boardwalks, provides habitat for 160 bird species and offers residents and tourists alike with opportunities to immerse themselves in nature. The park spawned the Tantramar Wetlands Centre, where hundreds of young people have gotten their feet wet through innovative wetlands education programming. Not to mention, this picturesque wetland—along with the sprawling Tantramar Marshes that surround it—are helping protect the town from the growing threats of floods caused by a changing climate. On more than one occasion, I’ve heard residents say that wetlands become part of your identity when you live in Sackville.
Today, this special relationship between people and nature has earned the town another feather for its cap. Sackville is now the first community in North America to be accredited as a “Wetland City” by the Convention on Wetlands, an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. Praising Sackville’s commitment to weaving wetland conservation into the fabric of its municipal planning and development, international conservationists are saying that these are exactly the kind of bold actions cities around the world must take to create cleaner, greener and more livable communities.
It’s impressive recognition for a community with fewer than 6,000 people. But New Brunswickers have always taken the responsibility of land and water stewardship seriously. “Wetland Cities” like Sackville are now a model for the future, proving that these valuable ecosystems have a place within urban settings. Consider this: more than half of the world’s population today is living in urban areas, and this number is projected to increase to 68 per cent by 2050. Protecting, restoring and effectively managing urban wetlands is critical to achieving a climate-safe, water secure and nature positive future.
Fortunately, conservation organizations like Ducks Unlimited Canada (which helped create Sackville’s famed Waterfowl Park) are ready to partner with communities, big and small. Here in New Brunswick, Ducks Unlimited Canada has conserved nearly 60,000 acres of wetlands and associated natural habitats—with more than 33,000 of these acres being restored following loss or degradation. But there is still more work to do. Sea-level rise, coastal squeeze and floods continue to put our communities at risk. Incorporating natural solutions like wetlands as part of green infrastructure programming will allow us to battle the forces of nature with nature’s force.
So, on World Wetlands Day, a celebration marked around the globe on February 2, let’s fly our New Brunswick flag high. Let’s fly it with pride for what we’ve accomplished and with a promise to do more. Let’s fly it in honour of our friends and neighbours in Sackville, and for future generations who will benefit from their vision, passion and action. Wetland conservation and restoration is the answer to some of our most pressing environmental, economic and social issues. And by working together, whether you live in Sackville or anywhere across this great province, wetlands will become part of all our identities as proud New Brunswickers.
Keep on top of the latest news from DUC! Sign up to get email updates on our conservation projects, research, education programs and public policy work to stop wetland loss.Sign up to receive updates from DUC