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Reality Check

RC-07: Are Manitoba Wetlands and Marshes Protected?

Date Posted: May 23, 2011

Manitoba Heritage Marshes are not listed on the government website. They may be designated under the Wildlife Act, as a wildlife management area, or as Ecological Reserves, or not be designated at all. They may be protected from development or not. If they are protected there is a regulation, usually under the Manitoba Wildlife Act.

To date no inventory of our wetlands and marshes system in Manitoba has been conducted and made public.

One of the best ways to protect water quality and protect against climate change impacts is to keep our wetlands and marshes healthy and functioning. Valuation of the services provided by marshes and wetlands is often noted in text, but supporting data is needed.

Impacts from flooding are made worse when we clear wetlands or marshes, draining them for commercial purposes. Wetlands and marshes retain water, clean water, slow movement of water in spring, and protect against erosion. Our wetland and marsh species also provide services to humans! Wetland and marsh species are essential parts of their ecosystem.

Certain Manitoba Heritage Marshes are protected from development activities.. This means regulation under the Wildlife Act, or other Manitoba law prohibits logging, mining (including aggregate extraction), and oil, petroleum, natural gas or hydro-electric development, and any activity that may significantly alter habitat.

Our boreal forest regions (forested, taiga, and tundra) are full of peatlands, wetlands or 'muskeg'. These systems may be thousand and thousands of hectare in size. Cleaning our water, our air, and storing carbon, these boreal wetlands and muskeg protect for their biodiversity and services for humans!

Conservation Districts across southern Manitoba are to be congratulated on the work they do and encouraged to move forward with protection of wetlands.

Manitoba needs to make all Heritage Marshes protected areas. Then more wetlands and marshes can be identified for protection. Systems and types of wetlands need to be represented in the province's system of protected areas, through our regions, ideally connecting them for species movement.

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