Wetlands should be Newfoundland and Labrador’s top Conservation Priority
NCC looks for new properties to protect
The conservation and restoration of wetlands in Newfoundland and Labrador must be a top priority, especially in the face of a changing climate, says Lanna Campbell, Program Director with the Nature Conservancy of Canada in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Campbell is commenting on the occasion of World Wetlands Day on February 2nd. The Nature Conservancy of Canada wishes to acquire additional privately owned wetlands in the province for conservation, through land purchases or donations.
“Wetlands are one of our most important conservation targets,” says Campbell. “We know that at least half of the wildlife in North America rely on wetlands for at least part of their lifecycle, and yet we don’t have a really complete picture of the extent and health of wetlands in this province.”
Wetlands are important, because they are nature’s water filters. They are a great recreational spot. They reduce erosion by trapping sediments and reinforcing soil. They capture phosphorus that would otherwise end up causing harmful algae blooms on lakes. They provide food, water and shelter to thousands of animals like migratory birds and plant species.
A plant species found on wetlands in Newfoundland and Labrador is the marsh horsetail. Marsh horsetail can be found on the Grand Codroy Estuary, one of the most productive of Newfoundland and Labrador’s few estuarine (estuaries are places where salt and freshwater mix) wetland sites.
The Grand Codroy Estuary was added to the list of wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention in 1987, and is also declared an important bird area.
The Grand Codroy Estuary has been identified by the Nature Conservancy of Canada as a priority site for conservation. Since 1997, NCC has helped protect over 500 acres (202 hectares) in the Codroy. To protect the plant, people can stop habitat construction by keeping all-terrain vehicles off sensitive habitats like bogs and fens. People can also support stewardship activities, such as clean-ups, in their area.
“Wetlands are a classic landscape feature in Newfoundland and Labrador; they even house the provincial flower, the unique carnivorous pitcher plant,” said Campbell. “By recognizing World Wetlands Day we remind ourselves of the multitude of benefits that wetlands provide for us and for native plants and wildlife across the province.”
• Biologists estimate that more than 50% of wildlife species in North America rely on access to wetland habitat for at least part of their life cycle.
• Almost 35% of all rare, threatened and endangered species are dependent on wetlands.
• Wetlands store water for that can help mitigate droughts, and they absorb and store excess water in areas prone to flooding and erosion.
• Wetlands have the potential to mitigate the impacts of climate change by acting tempering temperature extremes in a local area.
• Wetlands serve as natural water treatment systems.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is the nation's leading land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 2.7 million acres (over 1 million hectares), coast to coast. In Newfoundland and Labrador, we have conserved over 12,800 acres (over 5,180 hectares).
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