Wetlands – World’s Most Valuable Ecosystem are Disappearing Three Times Faster than Forests, warns new report

27 September 2018, Reposted from Ramsar

Wetlands, the most economically valuable and among the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, are disappearing three times faster than forests with severe consequences for our future unless urgent action is taken to ensure their survival, warns a new report by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Approximately 35 per cent of the world’s wetlands were lost between 1970-2015 with annual rates of loss accelerating from 2000, according to the first-ever Global Wetland Outlook of the Ramsar Convention, a global treaty ratified by 170 countries to protect wetlands and promote their wise use. The report shows every region is affected.
Losses have been driven by megatrends such as climate change, population increase, urbanization, particularly of coastal zones and river deltas, and changing consumption patterns that have all fuelled changes to land and water use and to agriculture.

Wetlands, which include lakes, rivers, marshes and peatlands as well as coastal and marine areas such as estuaries, lagoons, mangroves and coral reefs, are currently estimated to cover more than 12.1 million km2, an area greater than Greenland. Between 13-18 per cent of them are on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, which are protected sites.

Wetlands are critical to human and planet life. Directly or indirectly, they provide almost all of the world’s consumption of freshwater. More than one billion people depend on them for a living and 40 per cent of the world’s species live and breed in wetlands. They are a vital source for food, raw materials, genetic resources for medicines, and hydropower; they mitigate floods, protect coastlines and build community resilience to disasters, and they play an important role in transport, tourism and the cultural and spiritual well-being of people.

Studies show the economic value of services provided by wetlands far exceeds those of terrestrial ecosystems. Inland wetlands, for example, have a total economic value five times higher than tropical forests, the most valuable terrestrial habitat. Wetlands are also essential to efforts to regulate the global climate. Peatlands store twice as much carbon as the world’s forests despite accounting for just three per cent of the world’s land surface, with salt marshes, sea grass beds and mangroves also carbon-dense ecosystems. However, wetlands produce 20-25 per cent of global methane emissions and rising temperatures from climate change are expected to increase greenhouse gases from wetlands, particularly in permafrost regions.

Despite this, wetlands remain dangerously undervalued by policy and decision-makers in national plans. An inexplicable omission given the pivotal role wetlands play in delivering global commitments on climate change, sustainable development, biodiversity and disaster risk reduction, with wetlands contributing to 75 indicators of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) alone.

The persistent and growing threat to the world’s remaining wetlands from water drainage, pollution, unsustainable use, invasive species, disrupted flows from dams and sediment dumping from deforestation and soil erosion upstream is detailed in the GWO, released ahead of the 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP13) in Dubai, UAE.
Water quality trends are worsening with nearly all fresh water sources in the world compromised to some extent. Water pollution and nutrient loading from fertilizers are among the biggest challenges. According to the UN, more than 80 per cent of waste water is released into wetlands without adequate treatment while fertilizer use in 2018 is likely to be 25 per cent higher than in 2008, exacerbating excessive wetland plant growth and levels of decomposition resulting in oxygen starvation for flora and fauna alike.

The biodiversity crisis is just as alarming.

More than 25 per cent of all wetlands plants and animals are at risk of extinction. The IUCN’s Red List Index which assesses survival probability using available data has identified negative trends for wetland mammals, birds, amphibians and corals, an indication they are heading for extinction. Coral reefs are declining fastest due to rising sea temperatures, while amphibians have the lowest numbers and are the most threatened. Wetland fish, reptiles and large mammals are also vulnerable with every turtle species globally threatened and a third critically endangered.

“The Global Wetland Outlook is a wake-up call – not only on the steep rate of loss of the world’s wetlands but also on the critical services they provide. Without them, the global agenda on sustainable development will not be achieved,” says Martha Rojas Urrego, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. “We need urgent collective action to reverse trends on wetland loss and degradation, and secure both the future of wetlands and our own at the same time.”

The Parties to the Ramsar Convention have committed to the conservation and wise use of all wetlands. Although they have designated more than 2,300 sites of international importance so far, making the Ramsar List one of the world’s largest networks of protected areas, designating new sites for protection is not enough.

The GWO emphasizes the necessity of developing effective wetland management plans and integrating wetlands into the planning and implementation of national plans on sustainable development, climate change and other key global commitments.
The report also stresses good governance and effective institutions at local, national and regional levels as a crucial factor in preventing, ending, and reversing trends in wetland loss and degradation. More accurate data on wetland extent and wetland inventories is needed to help countries identify priority sites for restoration. Indigenous and local knowledge as well as citizen scientists are already invaluable resources on the state of wetlands and can be used more.

Drawing on successful examples across the world, the report recommends using existing funding mechanisms to apply economic and financial incentives for communities and business to protect wetlands through tax benefits. Perverse incentives for farmers and business such as subsidies to agriculture that encourage wetland conversion or pollution should be ended.

Additional recommendations include identifying solutions for wise use of wetlands that draw upon all expertise, ranging from hard science to traditional knowledge, to secure wide engagement on wetland protection and wise use and ensure sound decision-making. The GWO’s findings are expected to inform discussions and decisions at the Ramsar COP13 (21-29 Oct).

“There is a slow awakening to the value of wetlands. Across the globe, legislative bodies need to integrate wetlands into policy programs and make investments into their sustainability. We need to educate the world on the critical importance of this most rapidly disappearing ecosystem. Without the world’s wetlands, we all hang in the balance,” asserts Rojas Urrego.

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In New Brunswick’s Blueberry Country, a “Nuisance” Bird Earns Respect and Allies

reprinted from the Globe and Mail, August 27, 2018
Ivan Semeniuk/The Globe and Mail

On a typical summer afternoon, the main activity on the island of Miscou, at the tip of New Brunswick’s Acadian Peninsula, consists of tourists flocking to La Terrasse à Steve, a local landmark, to fill up on lobster sandwiches and skewers of barbecued shrimp and scallops.
But nearby on the 10-kilometre-long island, another feeding frenzy has a more troubled history.

For three weeks every summer, Miscou Island plays host to migrating shorebirds called whimbrels that fly in from the Arctic and feast on the region’s bounty of wild berries before undertaking an extraordinary non-stop journey across 6,000 kilometres of open ocean.

The Maritime sojourn is crucial for the whimbrel, a protected species thought to be in serious decline. But it has also placed whimbrels in direct conflict with the island’s blueberry producers, a growing presence in the region who, until recently, viewed the brown, speckled birds as a threat to their bottom line.

Now, a concerted effort by scientists to engage with producers on behalf of the whimbrels appears to be paying off. Producers have not only become more tolerant of whimbrels in their fields, but, for the first time, they have participated in counting the birds to help track their fluctuating numbers.

“This year we had producers calling and telling us, ‘Hey they’ve arrived!’ I wasn’t expecting that,” said Lisa Fauteux, a biologist with the conservation group Verts Rivages, based in Shippagan.

Ms. Fauteux said the success of the outreach effort could pave the way for a broader awareness of conservation issues across the Acadian region.
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It’s a dramatic turnaround compared to 2014, when frustrated producers were looking for ways to deal with the whimbrels turning up in their blueberry fields. Reports from local birders of whimbrels being harassed and shot reached Julie Paquet, a Sackville-based shorebird biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service. Ms. Paquet began enlisting colleagues to investigate the problem. But when her team of mainly female researchers arrived and began asking questions, producers were more than a little wary of the “strange women hanging out in their blueberry fields,” she said.

“The growers, in the first year, were not happy to see us,” said Diana Hamilton, a field ecologist with Mount Allison University who participated in the project. “They considered the birds a nuisance.”

Ms. Paquet decided on a two-pronged approach that involved surveying producers to understand their concerns while gathering data on the whimbrels to quantify their impact. From the survey, there was no question producers regarded the migrating birds as a serious problem. But when scientists began documenting the whimbrels’ feeding habits, they discovered that impression was incorrect.

Whimbrels are omnivores who use their long curving beaks to hunt for crabs, insects and other small invertebrates living along the shore. During migration, they supplement this diet with berries, which grow naturally in bogs near the coast. As commercial blueberry growing has expanded on the peninsula, whimbrels have helped themselves to the new food source.

But researchers found that blueberries only account for half of what the birds eat when they are in the region, and producers were significantly overestimating the quantity of berries the birds can consume. The real quantity and cost turned out to be minimal compared with money spent on noisemakers and other means of chasing the birds away.

The challenge of conveying these data and winning over producers fell to Julie Guillemot, a professor of environmental management at the University of Moncton’s Shippagan campus. With a background in conflict resolution, she began an outreach program to inform growers – a program that Ms. Fauteux has since continued under contract with the federal government.

“What we’re doing is myth-busting,” Ms. Fauteux said. “We are telling them the story of the whimbrel.”

It’s a story that spans half the globe, from the Mackenzie River Delta where whimbrels nest each summer to their wintering grounds in South America. Based on historic accounts, biologists estimate the number of birds making the trip once numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Current estimates suggest about 22,000 now pass through Atlantic Canada annually. While fewer than 10 per cent of them will stop on the Acadian Peninsula, it’s enough to make the region critically important to the long-term survival of the species.

John Schenkels, chair of Bleuets NB Blueberries, which represents producers in the province, said biologists made a convincing case that whimbrels are not a problem for the industry when they spoke at one of the organization’s meetings last year.

“I would say that most producers that heard the message were somewhat relieved,” he said. Lane Stewart, a producer with a 200-acre blueberry farm on Miscou Island, said the outreach effort has helped to change his mind about the whimbrel, a bird he said was commonly hunted on the island in his grandparents’ day.

“They are not a threat to me,” said Mr. Stewart, who was among the producers who allowed biologists onto his property in 2016 to trap individual birds temporarily and outfit them with GPS transmitters.

Satellite tracking of the transmitters confirms that after leaving New Brunswick, the birds typically fly non-stop for about six days in order to reach the northern coast of Brazil. No other shorebirds in the Western Atlantic are known to routinely undertake such a long flight over open water, a behaviour biologists suspect may have arisen so the whimbrels can skirt past the hurricane-prone Caribbean.

“They may actually be flying a longer distance to avoid storm encounters,” said Fletcher Smith, a biologist at the College of William & Mary in Virginia who led the tracking operation. “It’s really an amazing thing.”

Mr. Stewart said he has taken to following the birds’ progress on a website that shows where they have travelled.

“To see such a little bird crossing from one end of the planet to the other – it’s kind of impressive,” Mr. Stewart said. “If it’s a help for them to eat here, that’s okay.”
It appears the whimbrels need all the help they can get. While biologists counted 1,200 whimbrels on the Acadian Peninsula in 2014, Ms. Fauteux said the number this year is closer to 400. But it is not clear how much of this represents a population decline and how much can be chalked up to shifting migration routes. Either way, scientists need more data, and Ms. Fauteux sees an opportunity to keep growers engaged by involving them in monitoring the birds. She said the project requires persistent communication with individual growers and with the community as a whole.

Even now, there are wrinkles that can make the dialogue challenging. While whimbrels may not be the scourge producers once thought they were, they must also contend with gulls, a resident species that requires no protection and likely does far more damage. That raises the question of how to keep the gulls off the blueberry fields without also chasing away the more skittish whimbrels.

Local politics also comes into play in places where residents are opposed to the expansion of blueberry fields into natural habitat. Ms. Fauteux said the need to enlist producer support on behalf of the whimbrels has sometimes meant striking a delicate balance between strongly-held opinions on land use.

“We’re trying to create a different viewpoint to broaden [the producers’] sense of working with nature,” she said. “But we have to respect that they have permits to have these fields.”
Having started the ball rolling four years ago, Ms. Paquet said the gradual shift in attitude toward whimbrels can blossom into something richer as producers continue to weigh the evidence scientists have provided.

“People need time,” she said. “My hope would be that communities on the peninsula take pride in the fact that they are providing habitat and resources for this really quite amazing species.”

Ms. Fauteux, who has roots in the area, said that is exactly what she has in mind, as she spends her summer crisscrossing the peninsula to meet with producers wherever she can reach them.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated that no other shorebirds are known to fly farther over open water than whimbrels. While this statement is accurate for the Western Atlantic, The Bar-tailed Godwit flies even farther over Pacific waters.

Follow Ivan Semeniuk on Twitter @ivansemeniuk

 

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Fighting Green with Green for Great Lakes Water Quality

(Courtesy of Ducks Unlimited Canada)

Lake Erie’s long-threatened water quality gets fresh hope with collaborative wetland restoration project

Paul General, wildlife manager for the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, was among the eight First Nations communities represented at a knowledge and experiences sharing workshop organized in February by Ducks Unlimited Canada. The workshop gave participants opportunities to exchange perspectives on wetland conservation in the Lake Erie watershed and discuss topics like invasive species and wetland restoration.

General is a member of Canada’s largest Indigenous community, one that for generations has relied on the watershed’s natural features to sustain its people. He singles out one of them.

“Water is a giver of life,” says General. “Without water, all things cease to exist.”

This home truth fortifies the passionate efforts behind the Lake Erie Watershed Wetlands Initiative (LEWWI), an ongoing collaborative project dedicated to improving the water quality in Lake Erie, the southernmost, shallowest, and smallest-by-volume of the Great Lakes. It’s also the Great Lake that’s most susceptible to blue-green algae. The algae, growing in response to excess nutrients, produces toxins that threaten drinking water sources, fish populations, beach quality, coastal recreational activities and the overall ecological health of the lake.

The cause of Lake Erie’s algae problem
There’s broad consensus within the scientific community that the main culprit promoting the growth of this destructive algae is phosphorus, a nutrient that enters the lake from a variety of Canadian and American sources including farmers’ fields, where the fertilizer is used to promote plant root development. The gravity of the problem varies by year depending on many factors, but very wet years, like 2017, can be especially bad when too much early spring rainfall carries more nutrients towards Lake Erie.

Still, 2017 was also a standout year for the promise it heralded for the lake’s water woes. That’s when DUC received a $1.3 million transfer payment—half from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and half from Infrastructure Canada —to restore wetland habitats and conduct project rebuilds in the Lake Erie watershed. This investment recognizes the emerging value of wetlands for improving water quality, a trend that’s taking hold across the country.

“It’s the first time the federal government has given money for wetland restoration, as an investment in green infrastructure, and that’s a big deal for us and other conservation organizations,” says Owen Steele, DUC’s head of conservation programs in Ontario. “It’s an affirmation of the importance of green infrastructure in addressing critical issues that impact society.”

Since European settlement, southwestern Ontario has lost as much as 90 per cent of its wetland habitat to urban development and agricultural intensification. The scale of this loss has sped up the flow of water and its associated nutrients downstream, diminishing the quality of our surface waters and contributing to water quality issues in our rivers and lakes.

In summer 2017, restoration work was well underway at this small wetland project located on a 270-acre agricultural property along the Thames River in the County of Middlesex.
In summer 2017, restoration work was well underway at this small wetland project located on a 270-acre agricultural property along the Thames River in the County of Middlesex. 

Helping Lake Erie’s water quality with green infrastructure
If draining and degrading wetlands has contributed to Lake Erie’s problems, putting some back on the landscape may be part of the answer. These restored wetlands collect water, trapping nutrients before they reach the lake, and are a type of green infrastructure identified as a best-management practice for improving water quality issues in Lake Erie.

In 2018, the federal and Ontario governments released the Canada-Ontario Lake Erie Action Plan, which includes a target of 40 per cent reduction in phosphorus loads based on 2008 levels. In spring 2017, the MNRF—with DUC and with additional financial support from Infrastructure Canada—jumpstarted the Action Plan’s implementation through the creation of LEWWI.

The LEWWI consisted of a series of DUC wetland conservation project rebuilds and new wetland restoration projects. The partnership exceeded expectations with the construction of 75 new projects, and the rebuilding of 17 existing wetlands projects within the Lake Erie basin. Most of the new projects are small wetlands on private lands that capture agricultural runoff from adjacent fields and tile outlets. These wetlands help reduce nutrient loading, improve water quality, mitigate flooding and contribute to climate resiliency in a long list of benefits. They also provide important habitat for waterfowl breeding pairs in the spring.

“We are really happy with the work DU Canada has done, as are the other collaborators we worked with on the Lake Erie Action Plan,” says David Copplestone, a policy advisor with MNRF. “With this increased investment, DUC was able to ramp up the amount of projects delivered this year, and so quickly—it was really impressive.”

The benefits of wetlands
Richard Wyma, general manager/secretary-treasurer of the Essex Region Conservation Authority, could say a thing or two—from both a professional and a personal position—about wetland benefits related to water quality, green infrastructure and watershed health. For the last several years, his conservation authority has partnered with DUC on various wetland restoration projects in the Carolinian ecozone: home to 25 per cent of Canada’s population—and the greatest diversity of wildlife species in the country.

“It’s an incredibly significant natural region that’s been heavily impacted by land use over the years, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to do what they can to protect it,” says Wyma.

It’s why he consigned 1.5 acres (0.6 hectares) of his 10 to a DUC-built wetland last year. This shallow water feature, a couple hundred feet from his house, delivers Wyma back to a childhood spent in nature. From his windows, he watches ducks, geese and cormorants make spectacular landings and wild turkeys and deer poke up among the sedges and rushes along its banks. “It’s wonderful to watch birds and wildlife in my own backyard, and to have my son grow up in a place where he can learn about nature in ways other kids can’t.”

For Paul General, such progress is heartening, if ironic. “To a First Nations person, it seems kind of odd that we would have to raise awareness to begin with. You would think that it would be a no-brainer to everyone, how important water is.”

 

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The New Tools of the Conservation Trade

Courtesy of Ducks Unlimited Canada

When the tried-and-true won’t do, today’s conservationists can tap into high-tech options.

The legacy of volunteers like Glen Michelson continues in a new crop of conservationists like Derek Hallgrimson. DUC hired Hallgrimson earlier this year as a conservation specialist in Strathmore, Alta.

While at Lethbridge College pursuing his bachelor of applied science in ecosystem management, Hallgrimson volunteered and served as president of the DUC Lethbridge College student chapter. This is where he first learned about Michelson.

“He’s left a big impression on the community in southern Alberta,” says Hallgrimson. He understands Michelson’s Kee-man commitment because he shares it. “It’s about appreciating an opportunity to give back.”

But as a millennial, Hallgrimson has a conservation advantage that Michelson didn’t: affordable high-tech.

“Eighty years ago, our mission was to safeguard habitat for waterfowl and wildlife. Today, that mission remains the same,” says David Howerter, DUC’s director of national conservation operations. “But now we have some pretty cool tools at our disposal.”

These new tools allow DUC researchers and conservation specialists to ask new questions, conserve more effectively, and see (and understand) the landscape in a whole new way.

“Eighty years ago, our mission was to safe-guard habitat for waterfowl and wildlife. Today, that mission remains the same. But now we have some pretty cool tools at our disposal.” David Howerter

Sniff it
Picture a Labrador retriever with its snout to the air, picking up a scent. Its nose twitches as it identifies different smells. Now, imagine a tower with similar capabilities, looming several metres over a wetland. Instead of a superior sniffer, this machine has impressive sensors that measure methane and carbon dioxide levels, wind speed and temperature.

This is an eddy covariance system (above), and DUC researchers use the data it collects to determine fluxes of greenhouse gases at wetlands.

TECH IN ACTION
By understanding how much carbon dioxide wetlands store, DUC is equipped to advocate for their protection. Thanks to DUC’s team at the Institute for Wetland and Waterfowl Research (and technology), today we know how critical wetlands are to people, as well as wildlife.

“Conserving existing and intact wetlands is important. They’re at a point where they are acting as carbon sinks and having a net cooling effect on the atmosphere,” says Pascal Badiou, a DUC research scientist who specializes in wetland ecology.

Map it
If you’re a fan of police dramas, you’re familiar with the scene where the detective, eager to find a link between crimes, maps the location of each incident to make connections. At DUC, we use a similar approach except our goal is to understand the landscape better and help others do the same. DUC Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specialists assist with this by taking satellite-collected imagery of the earth and layering it with geographically-linked data.

TECH IN ACTION
Data-rich maps produced by GIS specialists touch almost every part of DUC’s work. In Hallgrimson’s case, he uses GIS maps to identify wetland basins on a potential landowner partner site. GIS technology is also used to predict waterfowl breeding habitat and track invasive species.

Sense it
This spring, DUC launches a pilot project that will decrease its carbon footprint by deploying Cypress Solutions Sensors (CSS) (above) at up to 25 wetlands.

“This tool will reduce staff travel while allowing us to keep constant watch over wetland projects,” says Andrew Pratt, DUC’s manager of information technology.

One hockey-puck-shaped sensor will be positioned over a wetland to monitor water levels using sonar technology. A second, smaller sensor may also be placed in the water to collect temperature readings. Powered by solar energy, both sensors will be connected to a mini computer, and data will be transmitted to DUC conservation staff via a cellular network.

TECH IN ACTION
Using CSS at places like Delta Marsh in Manitoba is important to DUC researchers trying to prevent invasive common carp from entering this world-famous wetland. The destructive carp migrate from Lake Manitoba into the wetland when water temperatures reach 10°C.

“By monitoring water temperatures remotely, we can time our installation of exclusion screens into channels that connect Delta Marsh to the lake,” says DUC research scientist Dale Wrubleski, who leads the work at Delta. “If we do this right before common carp migration, we can cut off their access to the marsh. It saves us time travelling to and from the site to determine water temperatures.”

See it
We won’t drone on about this piece of tech, but Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are allowing DUC conservation staff in Saskatchewan to “see the landscape in higher resolution,” says Lyle Boychuk, a DUC GIS specialist. “The level of detail acquired now with the UAV is mind boggling,” he says.

Once a tool reserved almost exclusively for military use, drones are becoming more common in our skies. These aircrafts are piloted remotely or programmed to fly autonomously.

At DUC, trained staff program UAVs to follow a flight path, and are onsite with a controller to manage the drone at all times. The DUC Saskatchewan team use two drones outfitted with high resolution cameras, Global Positioning Systems (known as GPS) and other tech that collect detailed images and video and produce surface models of the landscape.

TECH IN ACTION
UAVs are being used to inspect and monitor DUC projects, map wetlands and document the impacts of illegal wetland drainage works. “And we’re just starting to scratch the surface,” says Boychuk, noting more uses for UAVs will likely be revealed in the near future. This bird’s eye view of the land is not just providing new information, it’s creating efficiencies. In the past, it would take up to a day or more to inspect a project that encompassed 160 acres (64.7 hectares). “Now we can image the entire property within an hour,” says Boychuk. DUC staff use drones to improve the landscape for waterfowl—not clog their skies or cause a feather-bender. “We avoid a collision at all costs,” says Boychuk.

Tried and true conservation tools
Do you remember PalmPilots? How about Betamax? Some innovations don’t stand the test of time. Others do. Here are a few basic tools that waterfowl biologists have used for decades, and will likely use for years to come.

BINOCULARS OR FIELD GLASSES
Sometimes getting up close to ducks or other wildlife is a challenge. Researchers, waterfowlers and birders alike use binoculars to watch ducks and other birds without disturbing them.

FIELD CANDLER
Inspired by the poultry industry, intrepid waterfowl biologists discovered that if you place one end of a radiator hose to an unhatched duck egg and the other to your eye and hold the egg to the sun, you can see embryo development. They then know approximately when an egg will hatch.

IDENTIFICATION GUIDE
Everyone needs a little help sometimes, and a good bird ID guide is a useful resource to keep on hand and reference after you’ve spotted a duck with your binoculars.

PHOTO CREDIT: Ducks Unlimited Canada

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New Funding Opportunity for Engaging Youth

The Government of Canada has 3-year (2018 to 2021) funding available for organizations to develop and deliver programming for children. This funding will support national-scale, regionally specific programs aimed at educating and engaging children aged 6 to 12 in Canadian wildlife conservation. Overall, this funding will educate kids about protecting Canada’s biodiversity for future generations and the threats, like climate change, that impact it. More specifically, the funding will support programming that achieves the following three goals:

  • increasing kids’ knowledge and awareness of Canada’s wildlife, including threats to wildlife and habitat, and how to conserve and recover species at risk 
  • providing kids with opportunities to get involved in activities that help conserve nature
  • inspiring kids to be active stewards of the natural world

Download the Request for Proposals to learn more about this funding opportunity and how to submit a proposal by Tuesday April 3rd, 2018

Employment programs

Science Horizons Youth Internship Program (Science Horizons)

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Science Horizons supports green jobs for youth by providing wage subsidies to eligible employers to hire interns in the environmental sector. Interns must be recent college or university graduates in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM).

The program is delivered by our two agents, Environmental Careers Organization Canada (ECO Canada) and Colleges and Institute Canada, who deliver the Environmental Youth Corps and the Clean Tech Internship Program, respectively.

Eligible applicants

  • Individuals
  • Provincial, territorial, municipal and local governments including institutions, agencies and Crown Corporations
  • Local organizations such as community associations and groups, seniors and youth groups, and service clubs
  • Indigenous including First Nations band/tribal councils
  • Non-government organizations including not-for-profit, such as charitable, volunteer organizations and professional associations
  • For-profit organizations such as small businesses, companies, corporations and industry associations
  • Post-secondary educational institutions

Geographic location

Canada-wide

Range of funding available

A maximum of $15,000 per year.

Contact

To apply or for more information, please contact ECO Canada or Colleges and Institutes Canada.

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Canada’s Investment in Nature is a Clear Commitment to Conservation

Courtesy of the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

There has never been a more critical time than now to step up the protection of Canada’s natural heritage — its lands and waters and the species they sustain. Nature conservation is a concerted effort that falls on the shoulders of governments, conservation organizations, corporations and every Canadian; it cannot be done alone.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) applauds the Government of Canada’s recent announcement in Budget 2018 that sees a significant investment of $1.3 billion over five years in conserving nature, a step toward meeting Canada’s Target 1 — a pledge to protect 17 per cent of its land and fresh waters and 10 per cent of its marine and coastal areas by 2020.

We are pleased to see the government’s commitment to invest in and prioritize public, private and Indigenous protected areas. We recognize the critical role of private conservation in the government’s commitment, ensuring Canada has places that support people’s livelihoods, give people the space to experience the outdoors and provide resources for humans and wildlife alike. Along with other conservation organizations, we are ready to do more conservation and do it faster, to help slow or reverse habitat degradation and species decline.

Since 2007, NCC, along with our partners and community land trusts from coast to coast, has conserved more than 430,000 hectares (1 million acres) under the Natural Areas Conservation Program, contributing directly to helping Canada reach its conservation goals. We are pleased to see the government’s contribution of $500 million towards a $1-billion Nature Fund, which encourages collaborative conservation between provinces, territories, corporations and not-for-profit groups to support climate change mitigation and the protection of species at risk.

Federal Budget 2018 is a game-changer; this significant investment is a beacon of hope in a time that needs more good news. NCC is committed to demonstrating our strong leadership as the country’s leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, and to make a difference to conservation in Canada, and to support conservation efforts by Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous peoples.

Read the Budget 2018 media release >

Learn more about the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s work in private land conservation >

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