Statement by the Honourable Steven Guilbeault on World Wetlands Day
February 2, 2023 – Ottawa, Ontario
“Wetlands are some of the most critical ecosystems on the planet. They safeguard biodiversity, absorb carbon, and help us counteract the impacts of climate change. Wetlands are among the richest habitats for biodiversity and home to thousands of species, many of which are at risk.
“Today is World Wetlands Day, a day to raise awareness of how vital wetlands are, and how important it is to protect these areas.
“Wetlands improve the livelihoods of people working in fishing, aquaculture, and ecotourism, as well as the many sectors that depend on these industries. Wetlands are essential to sustaining our towns and cities. For example, wetland ecosystems filter our drinking water at a fraction of the cost than if we were to build infrastructure to do it. They also protect communities by absorbing water from excess rainfall and flooding, and buffering against storm surges along our coasts. The beauty of it is once we protect them, they do it for free.
“Yet, 35 percent of the world’s wetlands have disappeared in the last 50 years. And, as home to almost 25 percent of the world’s wetlands, Canada has a big role to play globally. Canada is a proud member of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, working toward the conservation and wise use of all wetlands with our like-minded partners around the world.
“Protecting wetlands is a key part of the Government of Canada’s ambitious nature protection goals to protect 30 percent of land and water by 2030. To get there, we launched the greatest conservation campaign in Canada’s history, backed by over $5 billion in investment.
“The Government of Canada is actively supporting wetland restoration through several initiatives, including the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund (NSCSF). We have invested more than $1.4 billion in the NSCSF—$76.9 million of which is allocated to support Indigenous-led natural climate solutions initiatives. Since 2021, the NSCSF has funded 40 projects focused on, or including, wetland protection and restoration to help Canada meet its national emission reduction targets.
“Just recently in Toronto, I announced $3.5 million for several projects across Ontario with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to support wetland restoration. One project will conserve important wetland habitat in the Frontenac Arch Biosphere, and rich wetlands north of Kingston, Ontario. The area includes 75 hectares of wetlands, forests, and granite ridges north of Kingston, Ontario, that act as a critical corridor for wildlife, and is home to species at risk, such as the Cerulean Warbler. Another project will help conserve the Brighton Wetland in Ontario. This large coastal wetland will add to the existing network of protected Lake Ontario coastal wetlands around Presqu’ile Bay. It is a critical area for global bird conservation, as well as for many species at risk, including Blanding’s Turtle. These are among many examples of the wetlands we are working to protect and restore across Canada.
“Wetlands support biodiversity, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and help our communities adapt to climate change. Let’s keep working together to protect and restore more of Canada’s cherished wetlands.”
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)
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