Today, environmental and conservation organizations are celebrating World Wetlands. Each year, groups from across the globe educate people on the importance of wetland protection. Coinciding with World Wetlands Day this year is the release of a new report from Foundation grantees: Ducks Unlimited, Ontario Nature, Ecojustice, and Earth Roots. The report highlights that land use policies across the Greenbelt are effective in protecting wetlands from most forms of development. This is particularly important given that three quarters of Southern Ontario’s original wetlands have been lost since European settlement.
According to a recent report on natural capital completed by the David Suzuki Foundation, Ontario’s Greenbelt has over 94,000 hectares of wetlands, including the Oak Ridges Moraine and Niagara Escarpment. With a value of approximately $14,000 per hectare, these wetlands save the province $1.3 billion per year in eco-services like water filtration, flood control, waste treatment, and water regulation. Wetlands top the list when examining the economic value of ecologically important features in the Greenbelt and comprise 12 per cent of all Ontario Greenbelt protected land.
In addition to building awareness about wetland protection, World Wetlands Day focuses on a new theme each year, this year it is travel and recreation. In the Greenbelt there is a wealth of activities such as, catching minnows and tadpoles, bird watching and fishing. The Greenbelt is home to 600 species of wildlife, including endangered species like the Jefferson Salamander.
Here are a few additional facts that you may not know about wetlands:
- Filter our water, ensuring cleaner, safer drinking water for our communities.
- Act like giant sponges to trap water to reduce floods and ease drought.
- Help to keep our groundwater clean.
- Provide important spawning, feeding and nursery habitat for many species of fish including minnows, perch, bass and pike.
- Provide essential habitat (food, water, cover and breeding area) for much of Ontario’s wildlife.
- Help to store carbon, reducing the impact on our atmosphere.
Click here to find a wetland near you.