January 24th, 2021

Loss of wetlands is an overlooked biodiversity crisis

By Letter to the Editor on January 25, 2020.

Feb. 2, World Wetlands Day, forces all of us to come to terms with an environmental crisis happening right in our own backyard. It’s a crisis just as damaging as those being experienced by rainforests, coral reefs and the Australian Outback.

The loss of wetlands in Alberta, in Canada and around the world continues at an incredible rate. Using historical data and mapping, it’s estimated that 70 per cent of wetlands in settled areas of Canada are no longer. And, just as damaging as wetland loss is to people and the planet, so, too, is the decline of biodiversity that occurs when these valuable ecosystems are lost.

This year’s theme for World Wetlands Day is “Wetlands and Biodiversity.” Biodiversity is a measure of the variety of plants and animals in an environment. The biodiversity associated with wetlands is among the highest in the world.

High biodiversity is an indicator that the environment is healthy; reduced biodiversity is a warning that the environment and ecosystems are under stress, have been damaged or are being damaged. When species are lost, the impact is perpetual. At home, Canada’s “State of the Birds” report says that our country has lost 40 to 60 per cent of shorebird, grassland bird and aerial insectivore (birds that feed on insects while flying such as swallows) populations. A North American study reveals that nearly three billion birds have disappeared since 1970 in Canada and the U.S. It’s an alarming statistic that sheds light to an overlooked biodiversity crisis.

Often wetland loss is the result of human activity past and present. While we know the value of wetlands relative to biodiversity and the environment, we continue to lose wetlands outright and damage many of those that remain.

But there is hope. Work by Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) and its many partners is helping bird populations – especially waterfowl – make a comeback, and in some cases, thrive. The DUC community which includes landowners, donors, volunteers, staff, government, scientific experts, outdoor enthusiasts and industry stands committed to conserving wetlands and the biodiversity they support through science-based efforts and programs.

The challenge ahead of all of us now – and you – is continuing to respond to the global call to conserve wetlands and associated habitat. Learn how you can help save wetlands and promote biodiversity at http://www.ducks.ca.

Ron Maher

Manager, Provincial Operations – Alberta

Ducks Unlimited Canada

Kevin Smith

National Manager, Boreal Programs

Ducks Unlimited Canada

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Southern Albertan

This brings to mind the Teck oilsands project which is awaiting a decision by the Trudeau Liberals by the end of Februrary to get another green light. This:
“10 things you need to know about the massive new oilsands mine that just got a green light”
# 6 is:”The mine will mean the ‘irreversible’ los of 14,000 hectares of wetlands.”
The joint review panel representing both the federal and Alberta governments described the loss of these wetlands as “a high magnitude and irreversible project effect.” And despite this, and the other 9 negative effects and iffy results, it recommended that this project proceed.
14,000 hectares in wetlands alone is 54 sections, or, 34,595 acres.
Teck, “the company itself,seems unsure if the mine makes economic sense….#5 thing.”
And, there is the cost of cleanup and restoration. Is this cost being included in the whole cost of the project? Perhaps, the damage that would be incurred by this project is beyond calculation. What value would be placed on the loss of 54 sections of wetlands? Priceless?
This project, should not be approved by the Trudeau Liberals. If they do, their ‘talk’ re: the environment, would be, indeed, cheap.

John P Nightingale

As someone who feels that current oil sands projects whose life span will be limited should not however be shut down this instant, approving further projects such as the Teck initiative is absolute folly.
The Liberals who have committed to a greener environment nation-wide must not green-light this proposal.
Otherwise our commitment to a low carbon economy proceeding to “zero” emissions will never happen , certainly not in the 21st century.
This in addition to the negative effects on the land base as already discussed here.


Your link has a number of flaws in their discussion. It clearly is a site for the misinformed who believe what they want to believe and trust what fits their narrative.


ya gotta know the fed libs will approve – their record on environment is atrocious…all talk and all action favouring big mining. our country is not in the mess it is because of cons alone…the entire game is rigged toward the big money that controls our so-called democracy.
thank you for the letter – wetlands are essential; we cannot have a healthy, thriving planet without them. alas, there are so many that think all that makes a healthy planet is more stuff to buy, and more waste to create.