Ducks Unlimited personnel working at Nesting Box Day at Pitt Addington Marsh. (Ducks Unlimited/Special to The News)

Ducks Unlimited personnel working at Nesting Box Day at Pitt Addington Marsh. (Ducks Unlimited/Special to The News)

Province, Ducks Unlimited create strategies to protect wetlands

Wetlands alleviate extreme weather events says DUC head

With global warming, the B.C. government is looking for ways to protect watersheds. On Tuesday, the province released its Watershed Security Strategy, which includes advice from Ducks Unlimited Canada, and the conservation group calls it an important step.

The discussion paper explores key issues including climate change, wildlife habitats, sources of drinking water, as well as community and economic stability. Sarah Nathan, Ducks Unlimited Canada’s manager of provincial operations for B.C., was on hand for the event. She joined George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, at a virtual announcement to discuss the critical role wetlands play in the health and security of watersheds. Referencing the gamut of floods, droughts, wildfires and debris flows that devastated the province this past year, Nathan stressed that protecting and bolstering wetlands is a must.

“Because of their capacity to absorb and store excess water, wetlands play a key role in mitigating extreme weather events,” said Nathan. “We look forward to sharing our science about wetlands and watersheds, and engaging with the ministry to help keep our communities safe and healthy.”

DUC has been active in the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows area, working on habitat along the Fraser River and in the Pitt Addington Marsh.

READ ALSO: B.C. seeks public input on new watershed protection strategy

Heyman said climate change and cumulative human impacts are threatening the health of the watersheds, which has a direct impact on drinking water, food production, local economies and aquatic ecosystems.

“We need to ensure healthy watersheds for strong communities and ecological health, so we are collaborating with Indigenous Peoples and all British Columbians to build a legacy of healthy rivers, lakes, streams and aquifers for our children and grandchildren.”

In addition to mitigating floods within river floodplains, improving water quality by filtering out pollutants and keeping water on the landscape during drought conditions, Nathan also stressed the vital role wetlands play alongside B.C.’s estuaries. While estuaries make up less than three per cent of the province’s coastline, they play an essential role in a vast number of coastal wildlife species. Some of these species, including the Chinook salmon, are seeing significant declines.

People are now invited to provide input about the ideas and options presented in the discussion paper.

To share your thoughts about development of the strategy, visit: www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/water

Written submissions can also be made by at livingwatersmart@gov.bc.ca

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