As the North American Wetlands Conservation Council (Canada) (NAWCC) enters its 10th year, we look back on past successes, and forward to continuing challenges in wetland conservation. In the past decade, there have been significant developments in the area of wetland conservation policy in Canada at all levels of government and within industry. Awareness and recognition of the importance of wetlands continues to grow. However, even with these positive developments, wetland losses mount as the result of pressures from agriculture, industrialization, urbanization and other land uses across Canada.
Nonetheless, governments, non-government organizations, industry and others have recognized the need for development that is sustainable. Although far from universal, there is a genuine and widespread interest in conserving wetlands, while allowing for necessary developments to proceed. Unfortunately, while there is a will to mitigate the effects of developments on wetlands, the capability is not always present. In Canada, there is no standardized, consistent approach to wetland mitigation. The NAWCC (Canada) recognized that there was a need for guidance, for a blueprint that those with the responsibility for developments and for land management could use to help them fulfill a commitment to wetland conservation.
This paper, developed through an extensive consultation process, is published to help fill that void. It is part of a multiphase initiative, the Wetland Mitigation Project, that is designed to advance the state of wetland mitigation in Canada. The document sets out a series of principles that should underlie the approach to mitigation, and a set of guidelines that give direction to the mitigation process. These principles and guidelines have been adopted by the NAWCC (Canada) for the mitigation process for North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) projects in Canada, should there be a NAWMP project wetland threatened with disturbance and/or development.
The series of case studies, reflections and practical framework contained in the document offer additional guidance, through lessons that others have learned. Future activities envisioned under the Wetland Mitigation Project include wide distribution of this document across Canada, urging federal, provincial, territorial, aboriginal and municipal governments to recognize its strengths and adopt it for their region and mandate. It is hoped that industry, be it construction, transportation or other, will look positively on the document and adopt it for use in their development projects. The NAWCC (Canada) Secretariat looks forward to providing guidance and consultation on any of the concepts in the document, and welcomes discussions for improvement. The Secretariat will also be encouraging workshops to publicize and promote its use.
We urge you to consider adopting the wetland mitigation approach described in this document, and to establish your own guidelines applicable to your particular activities and endeavours. A more consistent application of this approach to wetland mitigation will add a powerful tool to help conserve Canada's wetlands.