New wet­lands plan in Man­i­toba

Canadian Wildlife - - DISPATCHES -

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.

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