Canada holds close to a quarter of the world’s wetlands. They’re vital to our ecosystem and environment – wetlands hold and filter fresh water, support a diversity of wildlife and store carbon. Globally, the boreal forest holds 455 billion tonnes of carbon or as much as 26 years’ worth of global emissions, most of which is held in peaty boreal wetlands that submerge decaying plants and keep them from releasing carbon into the atmosphere. Wetlands also play a large role in many Indigenous communities’ way of life, providing food and medicine.
Maintaining these crucial wetland ecosystems is a key priority in forest management. The health of our wetlands and the species that live there is a barometer for the overall health of our environment, along with its direct benefits to our broader ecosystem. Migratory species in particular, like ducks, give us insight into the state of the ecosystem – healthy populations are a sign that the environment is healthy, and Canada’s boreal forests are where many migratory waterfowl nest and raise their young.
20 years ago, Alberta had significant knowledge gaps about its wetlands and the species that live there, and the forest industry worked with Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) and other partner organizations to fill in those gaps. This relationship is one of many collaborations between the forest industry and diverse research organizations or other groups involved in caring for wildlife populations and ecosystems. The partnership between DUC and Alberta forestry companies started with assessing the location and health of wetlands in the boreal forest, and has led to guidelines and best practices that integrate wetland stewardship with forest management.
The Forest Management Wetland Stewardship Initiative, an example of Alberta forest companies’ ongoing collaboration with Ducks Unlimited Canada, actively shares this body of knowledge and resources that advance wetland stewardship in the boreal forest. Alberta’s forest industry has been a key partner for DUC since they started their Boreal Conservation Programs two decades ago, and we’re proud to share what we’ve learned with other jurisdictions to promote sustainable practices around the world. Our partnership with Ducks Unlimited Canada is an outstanding example of industry and conservation organizations working together to meet a shared goal – preserving the health of our wetland species and ecosystems, which directly impacts the world’s supply of clean air and water.