Wetland Workforce at Chase Woods Nature Preserve (Photo by Cheyenne Bergenhenegouwen, BCWF Wetlands Workforce)
This field season, we are welcoming a skilled crew of wetland technicians to help advance crucial wetland conservation projects on the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) lands across British Columbia. This crew is part of a BC-wide Wetlands Workforce, an ambitious conservation initiative led by the BC Wildlife Federation to maintain and monitor wetlands across the province.
As the largest collaborative wetland initiative of its kind in Canada, the Wetlands Workforce program will bring increased knowledge and understanding of the condition of BC’s wetlands at community, regional and provincial scales.
Wetlands are among the most important ecosystems on the planet. These water-saturated lands can be marshes, swamps or bogs. They can hold fresh or salt water. They can be permanent or ephemeral. In all cases, they are ecological powerhouses that provide critical habitat for wildlife as well as essential benefits to human communities, such as filtering water or limiting the effects of flooding.
Protecting and restoring wetlands is a core part of NCC’s work in BC. This long-term commitment to enhance wetland and riparian habitats requires ongoing effort. The Wetlands Workforce initiative, and the dynamic crew of five professionals that are out working on NCC’s wetland projects this season, is providing an important boost to the impact of our wetland work.
Northern leopard frog (Photo by Barb Houston)
”Wetlands are such important places because they are the cradle of biological diversity that provide the water and productivity upon which countless species of plants and animals depend for survival," says Christine Brophy, the team leader for NCC's Wetlands Workforce crew. "I am honored to have the privilege to work with NCC and the Wetlands Workforce to achieve long-term, successful riparian restoration and riparian health assessments in order to provide the protection and attention that all wetlands deserve.”
For anyone who wants to spend more time outside than inside, being a wetland tech might just be a perfect job. The crew will visit NCC conservation areas across BC, literally getting their hands dirty with the work of enhancing, restoring and managing wetland habitats. They will be pulling weeds, repairing fencing, planting native species, observing and recording data, measuring impact and cleaning up debris.
A song sparrow sings at Chase Woods. (Photo by Ren Ferguson)
At Chase Woods on Vancouver Island, for example, the West Coast crew will help tend the recent restoration planting, helping to ensure the hundreds of native plants that were planted in February grow strong and fast enough to out-compete invasive grasses.
Across NCC’s interior conservation areas, including at Lac du Bois Conservation Area near Kamloops, the Interior crew will plant willow stakes, remove invasive plants, help install protective fencing, conduct shoreline clean ups and undertake multiple riparian health surveys.
The crew will learn how to use drones to collect survey and assessment information, literally getting a bird’s-eye view on the health of the wetlands!
Wetlands Workforce team member engaging in field work at Chase Woods (Photo by Claudia Ferris, BCWF Wetlands Workforce)
Effective conservation relies on continually measuring the impact of our efforts and developing new and improved methods for understanding and managing conservation lands. The Wetland Workforce is supporting a province-wide wetland assessment and inventory project that will help public and private conservation agencies make the best possible decisions and take the most effective actions to maintain and enhance these crucial habitats.
“Our Wetlands Workforce staff will be contributing to a better understanding of wetland health across the province of British Columbia,” says Virginia Hudson, NCC’s manager of conservation planning and stewardship in BC. “These sensitive ecosystems strengthen ecological resiliency across our landscapes. We are thrilled to have a dedicated team focused on improving our understanding of wetlands to help better inform our conservation planning, restoration and enhancement work.”
Funding for this initiative comes from the Healthy Watersheds Initiative, which is delivered by the Real Estate Foundation of BC and Watersheds BC, with financial support from the Province of British Columbia as part of its $10-billion COVID-19 response.