The conservation and restoration of wetlands in Manitoba must be a top priority, especially in the face of a changing climate, said Kevin Teneycke, acting regional vice-president with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) in Manitoba.
Teneycke commented on the importance of wetlands leading up to World Wetlands Day, which is taking place on February 2, 2019. This date marks the adoption of a treaty which provides the framework for conserving and protecting wetlands.
“Wetlands play an important role in the health of our country and our communities,” said Teneycke. “They play a critical role in absorbing and storing carbon. They also remove sediments, excess nutrients, and even bacteria from our surface and ground water. Like a giant paper towel, they absorb and hold water to buffer our cities and farms from floods and droughts, both of which are growing more common and extreme in recent years”.
Canada is home to 25 per cent of the world’s wetlands, which are important for the health of our planet. However, these ecosystems are disappearing very quickly due in part to land development, invasive species and pollution. Every day, important wetlands are being lost across Canada.
Wetlands in southern Canada reflect the fate of wetlands around the world. It’s estimated that by 1990, 50 million acres of Canada’s wetlands had been lost. Wetlands associated with urban areas are particularly threatened, with 80 to 98 per cent converted to other uses. But almost everywhere Canadians live, most of the original wetlands have been lost.
Wetlands provide ecological services such as flood control, carbon storage, and food production, wetlands play a vital role in our day to day lives.