World Wetlands Day has been celebrated on February 2 since 2021 to show appreciation for wetlands and to raise awareness about the need for wetland conservation.
Wetlands are important sites of biodiversity, sources of freshwater and essential “carbon sinks,” or natural spaces that absorb carbon dioxide. Wetlands are also known to improve water quality by protecting against soil erosion and stormwater runoff.
When the UN Convention on Wetlands was adopted as an international treaty on February 2, 1971, it was motivated by concern that, worldwide, we have lost around 90 per cent of the wetlands that existed before the industrial revolution. We are now losing wetlands three times faster than forests globally.
All of the wetlands that were once part of the Halifax Peninsula have been lost.
Wetland management in the Halifax region
The 2023 World Wetlands Day theme is “Wetlands and human well-being.” In support of these efforts, the federal government has committed $780 million to conserving and restoring wetlands, peatlands and grasslands in its 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan.
In our municipality, natural assets are being recorded as part of a natural asset inventory and collaboration is happening between multiple levels of government to protect wetlands. This work is crucial because of the life-supporting services that wetlands provide and the vital role that they play in protecting communities from flooding.
The municipality is working to improve water quality and climate resilience by protecting natural assets in the Nine Mile River Watershed. This culturally and ecologically significant watershed is 135 square kilometres and contains many interconnected ecosystems.
Conservation happens when we act on climate together. The strongest wetland management happens through consensus, which means that we need to work together to meet the goals of wetland conservation and restoration.
Here are some actions you can take:
- raise awareness by talking about the need for wetland protection
- get involved in community water monitoring through our municipal program LakeWatchers
- be an environmental steward in your everyday life by taking part in wetland restoration efforts at the local level
Nature and Biodiversity
We’re so lucky to be surrounded by nature in the Halifax region, with forests, beaches, lakes, wetlands and barrens all around us. Keeping these ecosystems healthy is vital, as they provide us with clean water, store extra water during floods, clean our air and lower air temperatures. Healthy ecosystems also sequester carbon, which helps mitigate climate change.
Climate change projections for our region show that we can expect weather that is wetter, wilder and warmer than ever. Understanding how nature can help us adapt to these changing conditions is essential for building resilient communities. What’s more, access to pristine natural areas contributes to the magic of the municipality and attracts visitors, locals and new residents alike. Ecosystem health is also essential for our non-human residents such as birds, insects, mammals and plants. The biodiversity of our region depends on availability of healthy and diverse habitat.
Here are some ways we're working to protect and understand nature in the Halifax Regional Municipality:
- We're working with the Natural Asset Initiative on a pilot project in the Nine Mile River watershed to identify key natural assets that play a role in stormwater management and climate resilience.
- We were recently awarded Bird Friendly City status from Nature Canada, and continue to work with communities to make our region safer for birds and other wildlife.
- We released an Integrated Pest Management plan in 2022, and continue to work towards more effective management of invasive species.
- We use nature-based resilient landscaping such as rain gardens and naturalized areas to manage stormwater in our parks, right of way spaces and municipal property. We also provide resources for residents to manage excess water on their property using nature-based solutions at home.
- We encourage residents to plant perennials in the boulevard right-of-way, to promote biodiversity and habitat for pollinators.