Agricultural Wetland Restoration and/or Farm Pond Construction Projects on Prince Edward Island 2010-11

Goals and Objectives

The primary goal of this project is to address the degradation of small wetlands in agricultural lands by working with farmers to incorporate wetland restoration and farm pond construction into agricultural practices. This will in turn enhance biodiversity and wildlife habitat in the agricultural landscape. This will be achieved through the following objectives:

1) Raise awareness and promote the benefits of wetland restoration and farm pond construction on farms to agricultural landowners through farm visits and promotional materials.
2) Increase implementation of the biodiversity BMP: Farm Pond Construction and Agricultural Wetland Restoration through education of farmers on the benefits of wetlands;
3) Deliver 15 wetland restoration/creation projects on farms and gain long term securement of this habitat through 15-yr Stewardship Agreements. 
4) Communicate the results of the implementation of Farm Pond Construction and Agricultural Wetland Restoration BMP to key audiences of governments, landowners, APF delivery agents, and the general public.

It is expected that achieving the goals identified above will contribute to the comprehensive goals for wetland conservation, restoration and management, as outlined in the PEI EHJV Implementation Plan.

Activities

PEI EHJV partners Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) and PEI Federation of Agriculture will participate in the local EEFP (Enhanced Environmental Farm Plan) planning process emphasizing the importance of wetland restoration and the benefits to wildlife habitat and biodiversity. This will involve presentations to farmers who have completed EEFPs, with a focus on farms within the 5 EEFP watershed planning groups (e.g. Mill River, Souris, Dunk, etc.).

DUC will identify and deliver 15 wetland restoration/farm pond construction projects across Prince Edward Island in 2010. For each site deemed suitable through an onsite inspection, a 15 year stewardship agreement will be signed with the landowner prior to the construction of the Farm Pond or Wetland Restoration at that location.  Each project completed will be evaluated in subsequent years and the project incorporated into the planning and communication process, as is deemed suitable, through on site tours and other communication products, including DUC’s web-site and Conservator articles.

Specific Habitat Products/Results to be Supported by WHC’s Contributions

Fifteen (15) Agricultural Wetland Restoration or Farm Pond Construction sites will be identified and surveyed in May 2010, and constructed prior to December 2010 (~1.5 acres/ wetland). A 15-year stewardship agreement will be signed with each farm landowner.  Funding from Wildlife Habitat Canada will be used to directly support the 15 pond constructions or wetland restoration projects in PEI.

Benefits to Waterfowl, Wetlands-Associated Species, and/or Other Wildlife

This proposal targets restoration and enhancement of critical habitats that directly benefit priority EHJV waterfowl species including: black duck, mallard, ring-necked duck, and green-winged teal. Actions will also benefit provincially significant waterfowl species including blue-winged teal, American wigeon, as well as a multitude of shorebirds and other wetland associated species, including osprey, northern harrier, sora, red-winged blackbird, and tree swallow.

The restoration of 15 agricultural wetlands or the creation of farm ponds, that average 1.5 acres each, are expected to provide suitable breeding habitat for an additional 23 broods of waterfowl over existing levels of brood production. Constructed farm ponds have an additional positive influence on neighboring wetlands by containing and filtering excessive nutrients and sediment on site.

Relevance to Habitat Planning, Decision Making and/or Management

Initially, this project is expected to have a direct impact on the participating landowners and on the wetlands and farmland under their direct management. By emphasizing that wetlands act as natural water filters and purifiers, functions which hold particular significance in agriculturally dominated landscapes and have additional value as wildlife habitat, it is expected that farmers will be more likely to protect wetlands and associated habitats on their farms. Understanding how the conservation actions will enhance water regimes in degraded wetlands and improve surface and groundwater recharge functions are expected to increase the uptake of biodiversity enhancing wetland BMPs. Furthermore, emphasizing that maintaining wetland habitat also improves local and regional economics by providing fishing, trapping, hunting, birding, and other recreational opportunities is also expected to increase the likelihood to undertake these types of projects.

Strong efforts to promote the functions and values of wetlands to the human population are required to curb further habitat loss and degradation. The increased presence of, and familiarity with conservation actions combined with the conveyance of the values and functions of wetlands will help instill a strong awareness of the need for wetland conservation throughout society. On the longer term it is expected that this increased awareness fostered through the extension and communications component of the project will influence other landowners, watershed and community groups, and eventually public expectation and policy.

Project Location

The project will be located entirely on private agricultural land, which comprises 222,186 hectares or 39% of the Province’s total of 568,360 hectares.

Project Contact

For more information on this project, please contact Jana Cheverie, GIS Specialist (Atlantic Region), Ducks Unlimited Canada, Charlottetown, PEI.