Yesterday, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) announced that it has cancelled the National Wetland Conservation Fund (NWCF). Projects that were funded through 2019 will remain in place, but no further projects will receive funding.
From September 2014 and March 31st, 2017, NWCF contributed nearly $25.5 million in funding to 198 projects. In the same period, more than 2,600 hectares of wetlands and uplands were restored while 340,000 hectares of wetlands and uplands habitat were enhanced.
“Wetlands are a proven ecological resource that increase the resilience of a watershed and protects communities and wildlife from the impacts of climate change and other human-caused disturbances,” said Elizabeth Hendriks, VP freshwater, WWF-Canada. “It is hard to imagine why a government with a mandate to support green infrastructure and address climate change would remove a tool that communities are using to restore critical wetland infrastructure.”
According to WWF’s Watershed Reports, all of Canada’s watersheds are experiencing some impact from climate change, with 21 of 167 subwatersheds experiencing high impacts from climate change and a further 105 subwatersheds moderately impacted by climate change. Further, WWF found that 93 of 167 Canadian subwatersheds have suffered significant habitat loss through the conversion of natural spaces to agriculture or urbanization.
“Urban wetlands are areas of high productivity and biodiversity,” said Karla Guyn, chief executive officer for Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) on World Watershed Day. “Protecting them is essential to the long-term health and prosperity of our communities. They also guard against floods, help prevent droughts, and store carbon.”
On its website, ECCC stated that it remains committed to the conservation and protection of wetlands through the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, as well as through the contribution of “revenue from the sale of the Canadian Wildlife Habitat Conservation stamp to Wildlife Habitat Canada.”
DUC is working with cities like Moncton, N.B., Edmonton, Alberta, as well as Winnipeg and Brandon, Manitoba to construct naturalized stormwater retention ponds. Wetland-like in appearance and function, these basins incorporate natural biological processes to filter and store water.