On World Wetlands Day, Manitoba’s oldest and largest conservation group is urging all farmers to personally take action to preserve natural habitat on their land.
“Science shows that wetlands can improve crop and livestock production in many ways,” explains Mark Francis, Ducks Unlimited Canada’s (DUC) manager of provincial operations in Manitoba. “I encourage farmers and ranchers to celebrate World Wetlands Day by contacting DUC or the conservation group of their choice to map out a plan to preserve and restore these vital marshes and ponds.”
Wetlands increase the number of pollinators in farm fields, which means better crop pollination and higher yields. Other beneficial insects found in wetlands are predators of common crop pests – flea beetles in canola, for example.
DUC research shows wetlands can cool the air temperature in local fields by up to three degrees Celsius, reducing heat stress in vulnerable crops. Another DUC study found restoring drained wetlands can reduce nitrogen and phosphorus running off farm fields into creeks, rivers and lakes.
To reward conservation-minded Manitobans, DUC plans to provide $15.1 million in financial incentives and programming in the coming year, including average payments of $100,000 to landowners who commit to protecting wetlands.
“With an estimated 70 percent of wetlands already lost in parts of southern Manitoba, the time for action is now,” says Francis. “Landowner support is critical. DUC applauds landowners for previous conservation efforts and we look forward to working with new partners.”
A new guidebook detailing DUC conservation programs is available to view and download here.
Since launching in Manitoba 85 years ago, DUC has partnered with more than 1,500 landowners. Conserved land total more than 711,000 acres. However, southwest Manitoba continues losing approximately 3,200 unprotected wetland acres each year.