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Commentary: Wetlands stand as a last line of defence

In the last 35 years, natural disasters have almost doubled, with 90 per cent of these being a result of the action of water. Wetlands have been a longstanding defense against symptoms of climate change. They reduce the intensity of waves, storms and tsunamis. They minimize flooding, and in doing so they protect the 60 per cent of humanity which lives along bodies of water. Also worth mentioning are the thousands of species, terrestrial and aquatic alike, that have made wetlands their home. Given that wetlands are ecosystems which exist between water and land, changes in hydrology due to climate change should be of particular concern.

As well, wetlands store large amounts of carbon, and are the most effective carbon wells on the planet. When swamps and marshes are drained or burned for agricultural purposes, as they often are, all the carbon which has built up over years of storage is released into the atmosphere. While wetlands are susceptible to climate change, they are also one of our last lines of defense.

In its work to understand the importance of wetlands in maintaining ecosystems through carbon storage, the Government of Canada has been working alongside Ducks Unlimited, allowing the latter to carry out the conservation, restoration, and management of 10,000 hectares of wetlands in 20 national wildlife areas across the country.

In November 2020, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change announced that the federal government and Ducks Unlimited restored 75.5 hectares of wetlands in the Lac Saint-François National Wildlife Area through a joint investment of $1.5 million.

These efforts ensure the longevity of the beloved trail, the Digue aux Aigrettes (otherwise known as the Great Egret Trail), by improving the ecological functions of the marsh and maintaining the presence of a wide diversity of species. This is of particular importance when considering that the Great Egret Trail is home to several endangered species, including the Canada warbler, the yellow rail, and the central painted turtle.

Dylan Burrows – Liaison agent, Les Amis de la Réserve nationale de faune du Lac Saint-François

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