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The Federal Policy On Wetland Conservation
The Federal Policy On Wetland Conservation 0 - Cover  

The Federal Policy On Wetland Conservation, 1991
ISBN: 0-662-18940-X
Cat.: CW66-116/1991E


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In 1986 and early 1987 Environment Canada developed a national statement and fact sheet on wetland issues in Canada summarizing management problems and identifying the major obstacles to wetland conservation. The Department subsequently sponsored a non-government organizations Workshop on Wetland Conservation Policy in February 1987. This workshop developed a series of recommendations directed to all governments in Canada concerning the need for wetland policy. These recommendations were sent to all Environment and Natural Resource Ministers across the country. The Federal-Provincial Committee on Land Use (FPCLU) in 1987 dentified "wetlands management" as a significant land use issue. A Wetlands Subcommittee of the FPCLU was convened in June 1987, and produced a report entitled "A Framework for Wetlands Policy in Canada". This report was endorsed by the full committee and members agreed to encourage use of this framework, as appropriate, in their own jurisdictions. Also in early 1987, the Federal Interdepartmental Committee on Land identified the need to develop a wetlands policy statement to supplement the "wise land use" provisions of the Federal Policy on Land Use. The Federal Water Policy adopted in 1987 also identified wetlands conservation as a significant water resource issue. For over 10 years Canada has been a signator nation to the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty focusing on conservation of wetlands of international importance. A major obligation under the Convention is implementation of principles, proposed in 1987 by Canada, for the wise use of wetlands. The Convention notes the "wise use" of wetlands is defined as their "sustainable utilization for the benefit of humankind in a way compatible with the maintenance of the natural properties of the ecosystem". Further, it calls for the establishment of wetland conservation policies in each nation to improve institutional and organizational arrangements, to address legislative needs, to increase knowledge and awareness of wetland values, to monitor the status of wetlands, to identify program priorities and to develop action plans for specific sites.

Canada is a major supporter of this Convention, having hosted the Third Conference of the Contracting Parties at Regina in 1987 and, more recently, providing the Vice-Chairperson to the Convention's Standing Committee. Thirty wetlands of international importance have been designated to date in Canada out of about 450 such sites worldwide. A commitment to wetlands conservation and the need for wetland policy have not only been recognized at the international level by Canada but also nationally. In April 1990, the Federal Government and numerous non-government and industry groups (including Ducks Unlimited Canada, Wildlife Habitat Canada, and the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy) co-hosted a national policy conference entitled the "Sustaining Wetlands Forum". This national meeting focused on opportunities for partnerships in wetland conservation and development of responses by all economic sectors to the implementation of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. A series of national recommendations were developed including a call for all jurisdictions in Canada to develop mutually supporting wetland conservation policies by 1991. At the Sustaining Wetlands Forum the Prime Minister of Canada was a keynote speaker. His address included statements confirming the Federal Government's intention to act on wetland policy as part of the national Green Plan. During the summer of 1990, the Federal Government undertook national consultations on Green Plan proposals. The summary report of these consultations indicated that there is widespread public support for the conservation of Canadian wetlands, for actions to reclaim degraded sites, and for protection of Important wetlands through a cooperative, national approach. Subsequently, in December 1990 the Green Plan included a specific commitment that the Federal Government would adopt The Federal Policy on Wetland Conservation in 1991. Hence, for over three years a consultative process has been underway to develop clear policy by the Federal Government that promotes wetland conservation. This has arisen as a result of interdepartmental and intergovernmental interest in this area, the support and consultative advice of non-government groups, Canada's international treaty commitments, support by a national policy conference on wetlands with strong business and private sector involvement, a public commitment by the Prime Minister of Canada, and most recently, widespread public support and a clear commitment for action in this area via the Green Plan. These actions all clearly demonstrate that concerns for conservation of wetlands have been elevated to the national environmental agenda. The Federal Policy on Wetland Conservation has undergone extensive review by stakeholders, consultation with affected federal agencies and discussion with provincial and territorial agencies and non-government groups. The Policy represents a prudent and thoughtful federal response to wetland decline in Canada.


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