Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) is conserving more than 4,700 acres of important wetland habitat along the Wolastoq (Saint John River). It is doing this by investing in research and community partnerships as part of the “Wetlands for the Wolastoq” initiative. This conservation investment of $3 million over 10 years represents the largest investment by DUC on a single habitat initiative in Atlantic Canada.
At 673 kilometres long, the Wolastoq is the largest river in the Maritimes and includes 49,400 acres of floodplain wetlands. After spring thaw, the area fills with nutrient-rich snowmelt from up-river, luring a diverse array of wildlife, waterfowl, and songbirds to breed, nest, and feed. The basin supports hundreds of species of birds and many species at risk, including Atlantic salmon, wood turtles and plants like Anticosti aster.
Wild rice is one of several food sources wetlands have traditionally provided to Indigenous peoples within the territory of the Wabanaki Confederacy including the Wolastoqiyik, Pasamaquoddy, and Mi’kmaq peoples. With most of the wetlands producing wild rice along the Wolastoq, a unique opportunity exists for local communities to access and traditionally harvest these areas, particularly on DUC’s wetland project sites.
With more than 500,000 people living along the river’s basin, floodplain wetlands are crucial in mitigating the effects of spring flooding, acting as a sponge on the landscape. Additionally, wetlands serve as a filter by collecting or breaking down pollutants before they reach the river.
DUC wants to make sure these important, biodiverse, and beautiful wetlands along the Wolastoq—and the species, people, and traditions they support—remain for generations to come. As part of the initiative, DUC will be:
- Restoring more than 25 kilometres of dykes and replacing water controls to conserve the river’s wetlands on more than 60 existing DUC projects along the Wolastoq.
- Conserving additional wetland habitats through various engagement opportunities.
- Improving publicly accessible wetland projects such as the trail system at Gagetown Marsh, to provide recreational opportunities for nearby communities.
- Conducting research projects with local universities and partners to assess wetland sites along the Wolastoq to quantify the value of this area for its ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration, flood mitigation and wildlife habitat.
- Partnering with Wabanaki Tree Spirit Tours & Events to conduct an annual traditional wild rice harvest at wetland projects along the Wolastoq.
More information is available here.
Header Image Credit: DUC.