Ducks Unlimited is one of the beneficiaries as the Federal government is investing 25 million dollars to protect Prairie wetlands and grasslands.
Specifically, Ducks Unlimited Canada will receive up to $19.28 million over three years for projects to conserve and restore wetland and grassland habitats in the Prairies.
Thorsten Hebben, Manager of Provincial Operations for Ducks Unlimited in Alberta welcomes the funding especially with the ongoing drought on the Prairies. He points to Kenilworth west of Lloydminster which has projects that impact some 150-200 kilometres into the Midwest and the Hillmond area which also has ongoing wetland and grassland projects.
He estimates about one quarter to one third of the funds would be coming to Alberta and that will benefit the Midwest over the next three years.
He says Ducks Unlimited partners with landowners, mainly cattle producers and enter into an agreement for a conservation easement on their properties.
“Those conservation easements are referred to as no break, no drain easements. They give us the assurance that the property on which the easement is placed will not be broken, in other words there won’t be any tillage, there won’t be any crop production and that the wetlands on those properties will not be drained or filled in.”
Hebben says the conservation easement is in perpetuity and is placed on the property title. This gives the funding agency [Federal Government] the assurance that the carbon sequestration potential of the land will be permanently maintained. The agreement recognizes the work that producers are already doing as stewards of the land and allows them to continue doing that work.
Hebben explains that the lands will capture and store carbon as well as provide other ecological benefits and landowners will continue to enjoy the use of their land with the added conservation recognition.
“Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Government of [Canada] have the assurance of both wildlife habitat, waterfowl habitat and all the other ecosystem services that the wetlands on the property will provide, including that carbon benefit.”
Hebben points out that the partnership is also a long-term recognition of the stewardship role of ag producers and landowners and says the bulk of the money flows to landowners. He sees it as beneficial.
“It provides ecosystem services, not only on the land, but to Albertans and Canadians from the perspective of water quality enhancement, flood and drought mitigation and some impact on local micro-climate.”
He adds when you start to drain wetlands, there is an impact on things like soil moisture.
The partnership recognizes the stewardship of producers and the value that their operations provide in safeguarding the environment.