April 14, 2010
FREDERICTON (CNB) - Environment Minister Rick Miles released the following message on the importance of wetland protection:
I wish to draw attention today to wetlands, those areas of land that are regularly wet or flooded, such as marshes and swamps. About eight per cent of our province is covered by wetlands but, these rich and fragile ecosystems are being continually threatened.
At the Department of Environment, we see a great deal of destruction of wetland ecosystems such as when developers put in place water diversion and irrigation that can rob wetlands of their water source. There are also instances where individuals and organizations bury and/or drain marshes and swamps.
The loss of our wetlands will result in the loss of numerous species of animals and plants, and our livelihood will be endangered if wetlands and their resources become further depleted, affecting our ability to be self-sufficient.
I encourage New Brunswickers who have wetlands on their properties to be mindful of how development can negatively affect these important natural areas.
Wetlands perform many important functions. They are a vital link in the water cycle and protect human health by storing and purifying ground and surface water. Wetlands maintain ecosystem health and provide habitats, food and drinking water for many species, including humans. They provide flood control, ground water re-charge, shore line stabilization, storm protection, and some wetlands store carbon, helping to offset the effects of climate change.
Climate change will have a negative impact on our wetlands. We anticipate that wetlands will be affected by changes in precipitation amount and intensity; predicted fluctuations in water levels may enhance the release of greenhouse gases from these systems; and finally the biodiversity within affected wetlands will be affected.
For these reasons, it is important to protect the wetlands in our province.
Anyone planning to buy a piece of land for future development should ensure that they are aware of all wetland features on the property so their development may be planned to minimize risks and maintain the wetland functions. They should contact the Department of Environment to ask questions before they risk buying a property that they may not be able to develop as they had planned.
The mistreatment of wetlands in our province will not be tolerated. The Department of Environment protects wetlands through various programs including the Watercourse and Wetland Alteration Regulation of the Clean Water Act.
The department takes seriously any violation of the regulation. Those convicted of an offence under this regulation may face fines of up to $1 million.
Let us all be mindful of the importance of, and benefits to, preserving and protecting wetlands in our province.
MEDIA CONTACT: Jennifer Graham, communications, Department of Environment, 506-453-3700.