Every member of our conservation community has a unique, personal connection to our mission—and we’re extremely grateful for the many generous ways they give. That’s why we’re excited and proud to bring you some of this year’s highlights focusing on the amazing people, events and achievements that reflect our collective passion for wetlands. Here’s how together, we’ve made another challenging year merry and bright for all Canadians.
DUC scientist Pascal Badiou joined a group of 38 researchers from 16 institutions to complete the first-ever comprehensive evaluation of nature’s potential to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. Results from the landmark study provide further proof that wetlands offer a diverse range of environmental co-benefits that help us mitigate the impacts of a changing climate.
Our Education team launched our new Youth Advisory Council to bring together young people aged 18 to 23 from across the country. Council members will learn from conservation experts, develop their leadership skills and share their perspectives on the future of conservation. To harness technology and deliver wetland education to more students, we launched a series of interactive virtual field trips. And our new Climate Change Resource Pack brings climate change resources to teachers and students.
Following her outstanding 24-year career devoted to wetlands and waterfowl, culminating in five years leading DUC as our CEO, Karla Guyn retired in October. After an extensive search to fill this challenging role, we welcomed Larry Kaumeyer into our flock as our new CEO. A longtime conservationist, Kaumeyer joins us at a critical moment in our collective effort to mitigate climate change and protect our natural resources and wildlife habitats. He’s looking forward to collaborating with our partners across industries and sectors to create positive outcomes for our natural spaces—and the communities that depend on them.
We worked to restore lost habitats for species at risk, which have been particularly hard-hit in the Okanagan Valley due to urbanization. On one property this spring, we excavated nine new small wetlands aimed at providing habitat primarily for spadefoot toads, but also for tiger salamanders. The new ponds will also benefit waterfowl and other wildlife.
We entered into a series of long-term lease agreements with Cowessess First Nation (CFN), whose traditional lands are situated along the scenic Qu’Appelle Valley in southeast Saskatchewan. The total impact of these agreements is substantial: 2,000 acres (809 hectares) of habitat conserved, including 470 acres (190 hectares) of wetlands. By considering the land’s health, CFN hopes to pass on its sustainability to the next seven generations.
Using cutting-edge, three-dimensional photo interpretation, we have mapped more than 265,000 wetlands spanning more than 717,000 hectares in southern Québec. The maps provide governments, land-use planners, real estate developers, farmers, foresters and the public with the information they need to work sustainably in and around wetlands.
Due to this year’s extremely dry conditions in many areas, DUC has opened more of its land in the Prairies to support producers. More farmers found value in working with us to retain their wetlands and grasslands. This includes Manitoba livestock producer Russell Thompson, who signed a conservation agreement with DUC to preserve areas of natural habitat on a half section of his land. A conservation agreement fit perfectly with Thompson’s goals: preserve the wetlands; use the perennial grasslands and bush habitat for grazing; and regenerate soil health by using management practices that best integrate his cattle and grain crops to ensure a sustainable operation, both financially and environmentally.
Our Ontario team had a busy year constructing 60 wetland restoration projects under the Province of Ontario’s Wetlands Conservation Partner Program. Together with our partners, we’re helping boost climate resiliency, water quality, flood mitigation, phosphorus reduction and overall watershed health. This interactive map tracked our progress; showcasing the places and people supporting healthy wetland habitats in the lower Great Lakes region.
Expansive and teaming with wildlife, there’s no better place to celebrate biodiversity than on the 6,245-acre Missaquash Marsh, located along the Nova Scotia and New Brunswick border. To ensure it remains healthy and productive, the Province of Nova Scotia and DUC re-committed to conserving this wetland—the largest managed marsh in Atlantic Canada—for another 15 years.
We partnered with communities, government and industry and embarked on an ambitious 10-year, $3-million conservation project to renew and restore 4,700 acres (1,900 hectares) of this vital freshwater wetland habitat in New Brunswick.
We became a proud partner of Dairy Farmers of Canada to support the group’s ongoing environmental efforts. Built on science and pragmatic agricultural solutions, the new partnership will bring conservation program options to dairy farms like Mary Ann Doré’s, in Ontario.
The Natural Heritage Conservation Program (NHCP) is a commitment to create healthier habitats for species at risk and to improve Canada’s natural environment. DUC is proud to be a trusted delivery partner that’s helping the Government of Canada deliver this program. Together, we’re finding new ways to protect our lands, waters and wildlife.
Consumers seeking sustainably grown wheat products now have a new ecolabel to help them source habitat-friendly food and drink items. Called Habitat-Friendly Winter Wheat, the ecolabel program is supported by our extensive research on ducks like northern pintails and other grassland birds that choose to nest in fall-planted crops like winter wheat.
Beef farmers and ranchers play an important role in providing quality food, but few people know they also play an essential role in protecting Canada’s land, water and wildlife. With the urgency of unprecedented environmental challenges, like climate change, we teamed up with McDonald’s Canada and Cargill to support rancher-led work through a $5-million Forage Program. The program will work to return 125,000 acres (50,585 hectares) of cropland to grass and pasture by 2025.
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 boreal peatlands, sharing research demonstrating how these carbon-rich wetland ecosystems are a nature-based solution to climate change and deserve enhanced protection. With climate mitigation and adaptation now a core element of our habitat conservation programming, our conservation efforts will continue to be critical in Canada’s commitment to the global community and our role in the current climate crisis.
The U.S. Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) announced a continued commitment to fund critical waterfowl habitat work across the Canadian waterfowl breeding grounds through the Fall Flights program. AFWA established the Fall Flights Program in 1991 for state wildlife agencies to support projects in Canada. Dollars from contributing states are the first step in leveraging important matching funds to support Canadian habitat conservation. The renewed commitment includes an interim goal of $5 million in annual contributions.
As a veteran, he fought for our freedom. As a conservationist, he’s ensuring future generations have a safe and healthy environment. So when Stocky Edwards embarked on his latest mission—raising $100,000 for wetland conservation in honour of his 100th birthday—we rose to the occasion by establishing the Stocky Edwards Wetland and Wildlife Conservation Fund.
We took time to recognize the special people who are the wind beneath our wings…literally! We honoured the efforts of our National Volunteer of the Year Jodie Wegman and others like her during National Volunteer Week. And longtime New Brunswick volunteer (and former National Volunteer of the Year) John Johnston stole our hearts by documenting a nest box hatch through video updates and this story of a duckling left behind.
With more Canadians enjoying a renewed appreciation of our country’s natural assets, DUC and our volunteers launched the Outdoor Event Series, a new family of events designed to empower participants to make the most of the outdoors. Other go-getters donned cycling shorts and running shoes to fundraise for our conservation efforts through volunteer-run events like Manitoba’s Ride to the Lake (which spawned cycling events like it across Canada) and the virtual Duck & Run.
Mitch Weegman, a rising star in conservation science, was hired as the DUC Endowed Chair in Wetland and Waterfowl Conservation at the University of Saskatchewan. Weegman, an avian ecologist, will teach and mentor top students from across North America whose research will help solve some of today’s most pressing environmental problems. Weegman’s role is the first of its kind in Canada and will write a new chapter in conservation science.
Recognizing that nature is a key to Canada’s post-pandemic recovery, this spring’s federal budget included new investments in nature-based solutions, sustainable agriculture, a new national census of environment assets and Indigenous-led conservation initiatives. This summer, DUC was the largest recipient in the first round of funding from the Government of Canada’s new Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund. We are proud to be receiving $39.2 million to conserve and restore wetlands and grasslands across the country—key natural tools in the fight against climate change. This federal investment recognizes that our habitat conservation work is essential to building a strong and sustainable future for all Canadians.
Top up your impact—and your tax credits
There’s still time to save money while helping to save wetlands. Maximize your savings on your 2021 tax return with a charitable donation. Donate by December 31DONATE NOW