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Conservation group highlights World Wetlands Day

By Brad Perry Feb 2, 2024 | 6:00 AM

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is using World Wetlands Day on Friday to highlight the lesser-known ecosystem.

Many people think of wetlands as wet marshy areas, according to the organization’s New Brunswick stewardship manager.

However, Aaron Dowding said wetlands are very complex and there are many different types.

“So much of our forest is spongy and soft and able to hold water, but if we’re not realizing that it functions as a wetland, we may not appreciate it as such,” Dowding said in an interview.

Wetlands are tremendously important to both local and global ecosystems, he said.

One of the main purposes is to hold water from heavy rain, floods, or large waves.

“In doing so, they help rivers and streams to function naturally when they flood. Wetlands allow that water to dissipate and move slowly throughout the landscape,” said Dowding.

Wetlands also filter sediments and pollution, and hold carbon naturally in the soil, he said.

According to the organization, Canada is home to one-quarter of the world’s wetlands.

It estimates that 70 per cent of southern Canada’s wetlands have been paved over, ploughed through or otherwise destroyed.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada works to conserve wetlands and other key pieces of land from coast to coast. To date, the organization has protected nearly 168,000 hectares of wetlands across Canada.