By Kathy Jones (Volunteer Manager, Ontario Programs & Canadian Lakes Loon Survey) and Dr. Doug Tozer (Director, Waterbirds and Wetlands), Birds Canada
February 2 is World Wetlands Day! This is a perfect time to reflect on and raise global awareness of the vital role of wetlands for people and our planet. We at Birds Canada work hard to restore and protect these amazing places, and with the help of our supporters like you, we’ve been very successful. Despite these successes, there’s plenty more conservation work that needs to be done – thousands of wetlands, particularly those in agricultural landscapes, remain in peril of drainage.
American White Pelicans, Ring-billed Gulls, and Bufflehead in a Saskatchewan Wetland Photo: Janet Hill
Please join us to spread the word about the contribution of wetlands to the quantity and quality of freshwater on our planet, and about the ways in which wetlands support animals, plants, and countless other organisms. Here are some ways to celebrate and support the conservation of wetlands across Canada:
- Visit The Boreal Forest – A Land of Birds and learn about the interconnectedness of lakes, wetlands, forests, and birds in this amazing landscape.
- Take a tour of two outstanding candidate “Key Biodiversity Areas” – places that are extremely important for wildlife and diversity. Both of these sites offer excellent wetland habitat and are home to a diversity of waterbird species (and more).
- Check out our Marsh Monitoring Program, which tracks the health of hundreds of wetlands and their wildlife communities annually across Canada. There are opportunities for you to volunteer as a Citizen Scientist to survey wetland birds (and in some cases frogs too) in the Great Lakes region, Québec, and the Maritimes. Please visit the website for contact details.
- Explore the Word Wetlands Day website to experience the importance of wetlands around the world for protecting freshwater resources and biodiversity, and post a note sharing why you value wetlands for all to see.
- Help preserve British Columbia’s Fraser River Estuary, one of the richest and most important ecosystems for migrant and wintering waterbirds in Canada. This estuary is desperately in need of strong public support to mitigate threats to its existence.
Big Creek National Wildlife Area in Ontario Photo: Amanda Bichel
- Support wetland creation and restoration projects by Migratory Bird Joint Ventures and other partners across Canada. Take a look at the Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring Program 25-year report as an example.
- Learn to identify bird species commonly found on our waterways, such as ducks, herons, loons, and grebes. One way to start is by watching these two training videos: Ducks and Geese – https://youtu.be/_HCbWc5K5m4 and “Floaters” – https://youtu.be/ORnr1RCFk2I . Apply your skills by collecting bird observations for eBird Canada or one of our Breeding Bird Atlases.
- Promote these actions where you live:
– Stop destroying wetlands, start restoring them
– Don’t dam rivers or over-extract from aquifers
– Address pollution and clean up freshwater sources
– Increase water efficiency to use wetlands wisely
– Integrate water and wetlands into development plans and resource management
Wetlands need our attention now more than ever. The clean water, biodiversity, and ecosystem services they provide are continually under threat from short-sighted development and other pressures. Thank you for spreading the word, and happy World Wetlands Day!