Whitehorse – Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) extends congratulations to the Government of Yukon for the release of a Policy for the Stewardship of Yukon’s Wetlands, the territory’s first ever wetland policy. DUC has been involved in the development of the policy since efforts began in 2017, joining other conservation organizations, Indigenous communities, industry and the public in guiding the policy to what it is today, offering comments and information to support a well-informed final version that will enhance wetland knowledge, management and protection throughout the territory.
By announcing a new wetland protection policy, the Government of Yukon is showing national leadership in the conservation of habitat and biodiversity and joins a growing list of provincial and territorial governments in Canada that are working alongside Indigenous Peoples to develop and implement legislative, policy, and conservation tools to protect the remainder of Canada’s vital wetlands.
Jamie Kenyon, Head of Northwest Territories and Yukon Operations for DUC’s National Boreal Program was deeply involved in the process and is happy to see the inclusion of protection for Wetlands of Special Importance, an emphasis on knowledge sharing, and the creation of a mitigation hierarchy designed to help limit the impacts of development projects on biodiversity and ecosystem services.
“This plan is a step in the right direction for wetland protection in the Yukon, and we are pleased to have been involved in the process, but the work isn’t done yet,” Kenyon says, referring to the implementation process, which is the next step for the territory. Many of the key points of the policy rely on the development of additional guidelines and assets.
The policy includes an appendix listing implementation actions, many of which DUC is poised to support the creation and delivery of, including the development of an accessible and easy-to-use guide to identify Yukon’s wetlands – a project DUC’s National Boreal Program is already undertaking with stakeholder engagement and content drafting already underway. A finalized Yukon wetland classification system will be needed, as well as a territory-wide wetland inventory, and DUC’s experience in both developing classification systems like the Enhanced Wetland Classification system and mapping large landscapes to develop inventories will benefit Yukon needs.
“DUC will continue to support the wetland policy with the Government of Yukon and to engage in the implementation process.” Kevin Smith, DUC’s National Manager of Boreal Programs and lead developer of the Enhanced Wetland Classification system explains, “We have a long history of working with people on-the-ground, with Indigenous communities, other conservation organizations, and with industry and government. We share the goal stated in the policy to ‘ensure the benefits of Yukon’s wetlands are sustained.'”