New wetlands plan in Manitoba
Late in 2017, the government of Manitoba released a new plan to protect the province’s wetlands. The Made-in-manitoba Climate and Green Plan includes a variety of changes to environmental policy but highlights wetlands.
“Wetlands are prime examples of a natural ecosystem that provides valuable ecological services,” the plan’s discussion paper reads. “They filter water, store water when it is abundant and save it for when it is dry. They store carbon and provide shelter and food for a myriad of species including plants, insects and animals.”
Wetlands preservation and restoration also actively contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “As much as 27.9 billion tonnes is estimated to be stored in Manitoba’s boreal peatlands — an amount equivalent to more than a century of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions,” says Ducks Unlimited Canada’s Scott Stephens. His group is an important contributor to the conversation about conserving wetlands. “If these wetlands are drained or destroyed, that carbon will be released into the atmosphere and deliver a devastating blow to the environment. That’s why conserving and keeping them intact is so important,” he says.
For now, however, Manitoba is losing, on average, the equivalent of four-and-a-half football fields worth of wetlands each day as they’re drained for farming. When implemented, this new plan may help to change that.