What We Do
Habitat Stewardship in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys, wetland restoration project 2015/2016
We support conservation initiatives for wildlife and their habitats. Our grant program has been providing funds that support habitat restoration, enhancement and protection all over Canada since 1985.
Our mandate is to provide financial assistance to conservation projects and initiatives related to waterfowl and migratory birds’ management based on our agreement with Environment and Climate Change Canada.
We are members of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and strive to improve and enhance the state of migratory birds and their habitats in Canada.
As members of various international and national conservation committees and councils, our aim is to impact the decisions that directly affect biodiversity in wildlife and habitats as part of the solutions to climate change.
Projects in Action
Wildlife Habitat Canada has provided over $55 million in grants to more than 1,500 habitat conservation projects across Canada since the development of the program in 1985. Our work with communities, landowners, governments, non-government organizations and industry has leveraged additional funds for conservation issues, roughly $150 million invested.
Our grants are divided into four separate categories
Advocacy for Wildlife
Wildlife Habitat Canada is actively involved in providing sound council and collaboration on a number of committees and national councils for the betterment of conservation policy in Canada and North America.
Wetlands and Waterfowl
At WHC, we consider wetlands to be some of the most productive ecosystems on the planet.
Through advocacy and our grant program, our conservation efforts are focused on the future of waterfowl and other migratory birds and their habitats.
As a part of an on-going partnership with ECCC, we invest funds from the Canadian Wildlife Habitat Conservation Stamp to protect and conserve wetlands and waterfowl.
What is a wetland?
- Wetlands are land that is temporarily or permanently covered with shallow water. Types of wetlands include marshes, swamps, and bogs, each with its own defining characteristics.
- Wetlands are sometimes referred to as “nature’s kidneys” because they filter the excess nutrients, sediment and pollutants from our water.
Did you know...?
- Canada is home to 23% of the world’s wetlands, which cover 14% of the country’s land area.
- The Prairie Pothole Region, approximately 715 000 km² of land stretching across the southern Prairie provinces and across the Dakotas, Iowa, Minnesota and Montana, is some of the most productive habitat for waterfowl in North America. Millions of waterfowl breed in the area annually.
- Wetlands are able to store excess water which reduces the risk and severity of flooding. Wetlands slow the flow of the water; store excess water then release this water back into the ground where it becomes a source of drinking water for people. wetlandfriends.org/facts-about-wetlands/5-interesting-facts-wetlands
- In the last 100 years, most of wetland losses globally are due to draining activities to convert land for agriculture or development. http://greentumble.com/astonishing-facts-about-wetlands/
- Coastal wetlands act as a natural protective buffer from extreme weather systems such as hurricanes. Inland wetlands act as a natural sponge, absorbing and storing excess rainfall. During the dry season, they release the stored water, delaying the onset of droughts and reducing water shortages. http://www.worldwetlandsday.org/
- Wetlands are amongst the earth’s top carbon stores. By conserving and restoring wetlands we can reduce carbon emissions and increase our capacity to adapt to climate change. https://www.wetlands.org/wetlands/why-wetlands-matter
Importance of wetlands
Wetlands are important, not only as part of a healthy ecosystem, but because of the ecological benefits that they provide. Wetlands:
- improve water quality by filtering sediments and pollutants;
- reduce flood damage and erosion by slowing run-off and absorbing the impact of high water levels and large waves;
- provide important food and habitat for many species of wildlife;
- slow the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by retaining carbon;
- offer recreational opportunities for hunting, fishing and birdwatching.
One of the leading causes of wetland loss is the conversion of land to agricultural use – wetlands are drained and filled in to allow crops to be planted. For example, in southern Ontario, 68% of the original wetlands have been converted from their natural state to support alternative uses such as agriculture and housing. Similarly, only about 25% of the original wetlands of the “pothole” region of southwestern Manitoba remain in existence.
Wildlife Habitat Canada works to ensure that the protection of migratory birds and waterfowl remains a vital part of conservation efforts in Canada.
What is a Waterfowl?
Waterfowl is the general term used for members of the Anatidae family, which is made up of ducks, geese and swans.
A Waterfowl is a bird that frequents water and is distinguished from an upland bird or shorebird.
Did You Know?
- A century ago the overuse of natural resources was the norm. The growing demand for birds exceeded what their populations could sustain. In response, the conservation movement started and one of the first international treaties on wildlife conservation was born.
- Since its signing in 1916, the Canada-United States Migratory Birds Convention has aimed to regulate the hunting of birds and ensure the preservation [of such birds] as are useful to man or are harmless.
- 2016 marked the centennial of the Convention for the protection of migratory birds. The Migratory Birds Convention laid the foundation for the conservation of birds that migrate across international borders.
- Legislation enacted in 1917 implemented the Convention in Canada by protecting migrating birds for their nutritional, social, cultural, spiritual, ecological, economic, and aesthetic value.
The Prairies support the highest density of breeding waterfowl in Canada and provide critical stopover sites for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds.
In the Eastern Boreal forest, waterfowl and other water bird populations have increased slightly relative to 1970.
Some species, such as the Hooded Merganser, Sandhill Crane and Canada Goose, have shown substantial increases of more than 100%.
Other species, such as the American Bittern and Common Goldeneye, have declined strongly.
The Western Boreal forest plays a critical role in supporting continental bird populations of many species of songbirds, water birds and waterfowl.
In drought years, many of the ducks that typically breed in the Prairie Region move to the Western Boreal.