Traditional flood management infrastructure can be supported by cost-effective natural flood management services that are provided by wetlands, according to research commissioned by Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC).

As part of its ongoing science program, DUC assessed how wetlands are currently integrated into flood management in southern Ontario communities. It also asked what is needed to remove barriers that are preventing deeper integration of wetland conservation into flood management.

“The conservation mission of Ducks Unlimited Canada is perfectly aligned with a climate-ready Ontario,” said Lynette Mader, DUC’s manager of operations in Ontario. “Sound science is our business and we have been doing the work to provide the evidence which establishes that wetland conservation and restoration will help communities cope with extreme weather events.”

The study findings indicate a growing understanding of the benefits of wetlands—for example, among public sector and water management experts—but that increased awareness has yet to be fully translated into action. The research showed that standard methods for cost-benefit analysis are needed to support local governments and conservation authorities in building a business case for integrating wetlands with traditional flood and stormwater management infrastructure.

“The Town of Innisfil was proud to support Ducks Unlimited Canada with this research,” said Lynn Dollin, mayor of the Town of Innisfil. “Recent events have shown us just how devastating the impacts of flooding can be. Research like this helps map out how municipalities, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and others can work together to conserve wetlands as natural infrastructure.”

The research was commissioned with support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, which awarded DUC a Seed Grant of $74,800 in 2018.

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“I am proud to be working with Ducks Unlimited Canada as [it] help[s] Ontario to become more resilient against the impacts of climate change,” said Andrea Khanjin, MPP for Barrie-Innisfil. “Ducks Unlimited has a proven track record when it comes to evidence-based conservation. I look forward to [its] recommendations on flood mitigation efforts in Ontario so we can continue to enjoy the quality of life we share today for many generations to come.”

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