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Protecting Wetlands Builds Environmental and Economic Resilience in Manitoba

Manitoba has lost more than 100,000  hectares of our original wetlandsEven though we still face a few more months with snow on the ground, it won’t be long before we’re asking flood forecasters for their take on the “the flood situation”.

We should also be asking, “What else can be done to reduce and adapt to flood and climate change risks?”


Taking Action on Flooding and Climate Change

Spring flooding has long been a part of life in Manitoba with the severity of flooding influenced by factors like how much snow we get over the winter, the moisture saturation levels of the soil, and the timing of snow melt and heavy spring rains. Ice jams and heavy water flows from other regions feeding into the watershed of the Red and Assiniboine rivers also play a role in spring flooding levels.

Over the last several decades, flooding in Manitoba has caused hundreds of millions of dollars of damage, dramatically affected people and property, and resulted in huge economic losses for industries like agriculture and transportation.

With the predicted impacts of climate change including greater winter and springtime precipitation it is quite likely that Manitobans will experience more frequent flooding events. And while the speed of future climate shifts — slow or abrupt — is difficult to predict, mitigation and adaptation actions need to be implemented now in order to slow or minimize the impact of future flooding events.

Pothole wetland near Minnedosa, Manitoba.

Photo provided by Ducks Unlimited Canada

 

Our Wetlands Can Reduce Flooding and More

One of Canada’s leading advocates of the protection of wetlands is ACU member and partner organization, Ducks Unlimited Canada. They estimate that Manitoba has lost more than 100,000 hectares of our original wetlands over the last 40 to 60 years and that we continue to lose 15 hectares of wetlands a day.

These losses need to be minimized because wetlands in Manitoba can play a huge role in coping with future flood risks and efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

The Government of Manitoba recently introduced new Sustainable Drainage Regulations that will protect over 500,000 hectares of wetlands in southern Manitoba. These wetlands have a flood storage capacity that is 11 times greater than the Shell Mouth Reservoir. The value of this flood storage capacity is estimated to be more than $665 million.

Ducks Unlimited brought this new regulation to ACU’s attention, and as an organization committed to healthy eco-systems and sustainable communities, we want to share the importance of Manitoba’s decision to take a leadership role in wetland protection with our members. These regulations will make Manitoba a national leader in wetland protection.

These new regulations will also:

  • Prevent between 200 and 1000 tonnes of phosphorus from entering waterways every year;
  • Store more than 100 million tonnes of carbon — something ACU greatly values as a company working to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Lead to more “green” infrastructure like porous pavement, green roofs, rainwater harvesting and urban retention works. Some of these infrastructure concepts are used at our new branches.
  • Increase the landscape’s capacity to cope with drought; and,
  • Support the protection of sensitive and highly diverse ecosystems.

Visit a Wetland

Wetlands are amazing outdoor classrooms. Visiting a wetland is the best way to learn about the import role they can play in flood protection, drought prevention, biodiversity restoration, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

  • Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre is a joint project of Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Province of Manitoba. Open year-round, the 36 square kilometre Wildlife Management Area is located 20 minutes north of Winnipeg. It offers a wide range of educational programs and activities.
  • Officially opening in June 2015, the Brokenhead Wetland Interpretive Trail is located on the way to Grand Beach beside Highway 59. It features one kilometre of raised boardwalks that take visitors through forest and fen environments.
  • FortWhyte Alive features interconnected wetlands that were designed and constructed by FortWhyte on a reclaimed industrial site. FortWhyte Alive is located five minutes south of Route 90 on McGillivray Boulevard.

As the provincial wetlands regulations are implemented there will be more wetlands to visit and learn about.

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