Essex Region – Around the globe on February 2, World Wetlands Day is recognized. Wetlands act like kidneys that filter water, cleaning out nutrients like phosphorus and other contaminants. Locally, nearly 95% of the Essex Region’s original wetlands have been lost since settlement began near the end of the 18th century.
Globally, the theme for 2017 is Wetlands for a Sustainable Future. “The world’s urban population and the number of mega-cities with more than ten million are growing at a staggering rate. This growth spurt is an opportunity to integrate wetlands into urban planning,” explains Richard Wyma, Essex Region Conservation Authority’s General Manager. “Urban wetlands are going to become increasingly important when it comes to managing the impacts of extreme rainfall events, and green infrastructure can be extremely cost-effective solutions. There are some great examples around the globe that we can potentially model locally.”
ERCA is presently creating over 15 acres of new wetland habitat across the region. In Leamington, a coastal wetland habitat restoration project is being finalized in partnership with Caldwell First Nation. A wetland in Lebo Creek will not only provide habitat values, but will also be used to research innovative practices to filter phosphorus.
“Many amphibians, birds and reptiles utilize wetlands for resting, feeding and breeding,” explains Kathryn Arthur, ERCA’s Restoration Biologist, who works with landowners to establish habitat restoration projects on their property. “We encourage landowners who are interested in creating these or other types of native habitat features like tallgrass prairie, meadow or Carolinian forests on their property – and are willing to restore a minimum of 1acre of new habitat – to contact ERCA and inquire about project and funding opportunities.”
There are a variety of funding programs available for a broad range of reforestation and other restoration activities, including wetland development. In some cases, ERCA’s grant programs can fund up to 90% of the program costs. Technical staff aid landowners with funding applications and with project design and implementation. Learn more about our grant programs at www.erca.org. Learn more about wetlands at www.worldwetlandsday.org.
For more than four decades, Essex Region Conservation has been sustaining and enriching the environment of the Windsor-Essex-Pelee Island region to ensure it is the Place for Life.