“The cost of restoring our internationally significant wetlands is small compared to the tremendous benefits they provide by improving the water quality of our great lakes,
reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing wildlife habitat and wildliferelated recreation opportunities.”
– STAN STRUTHERS, CONSERVATION MINISTER
The province is strengthening its strategy for healthy waterways with an investment of $1 million to protect and restore wetlands including Manitoba’s largest marshes, Water Stewardship Minister Christine Melnick and Conservation Minister Stan Struthers announced Sept. 24.
“As part of our comprehensive strategy to restore and protect the province’s wetlands, we are providing Ducks Unlimited with a grant of $300,000 to restore Manitoba’s two largest marshes: Netley-Libau Marsh on Lake Winnipeg and Delta Marsh on Lake Manitoba,” Melnick said. “Restoring two of the largest marshes of their kind in North America will add another dimension to our government’s commitment to ensure the health of Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba.”
In addition to the $300,000 grant to Ducks Unlimited Canada, more than $500,000 will be directed this year to the Wetland Restoration Incentive Program for the permanent restoration of lost wetlands through the purchase of conservation easements. Another $200,000 will be used to support the province’s overall wetland protection program including development of new policies and protection measures, Struthers said.
“The cost of restoring our internationally significant wetlands is small compared to the tremendous benefits they provide by improving the water quality of our great lakes, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing wildlife habitat and wildliferelated recreation opportunities,” said Struthers. “The Delta and Netley-Libau marshes are historically significant because early human populations relied on the wildlife living there. It’s just another reason why wetlands form a critical part of our protected areas network.”
Restoration of the Netley-Libau and Delta marshes is being guided by a working group led by Manitoba Water Stewardship and with representatives from the University of Manitoba, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Environment Canada, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Manitoba Conservation.
“Large coastal lake marshes help to filter out excess nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, and studies conducted by the International Institute for Sustainable Development have shown that restoring the Netley-Libau Marsh could reduce nutrient loading to Lake Winnipeg by as much as six per cent,” said Henry Venema, director of the institute’s Sustainable Natural Resources Management Program.
Netley-Libau and Delta marshes are both world-renowned lake marshes. Netley-Libau Marsh is designated as a Canadian Important Bird Area and is also a candidate for designation as a Manitoba Heritage Marsh by the provincial government. Delta Marsh is a Canadian Important Bird Area, a Manitoba Heritage Marsh and a site of international significance under the Ramsar, Iran, Convention on Wetlands.
Lake Winnipeg’s Netley-Libau Marsh has declined in size and lost much of its normal complement of plants. Sediment levels have increased in the marsh’s water. Lake Manitoba’s Delta Marsh suffers mainly from damage caused by the common carp, a species introduced from Europe by early settlers, which destroys underwater plants critical to the marsh’s function.
This year’s work on the large marshes will focus on undertaking biological and engineering studies necessary to develop scientifically sound plans to guide restoration efforts. Extensive discussions will occur with all stakeholders once plans are developed.
The ministers said this announcement builds on the province’s major investment announced in April of this year to protect ecologically significant lands in southern Manitoba. The Nature Conservancy of Canada is raising matching funds from other government and private contributors for a potential benefit of $21 million for environmental protection in the province.