From the June 2016 Newsletter, by Julie Dyer (former Biodiversity Apprentice, student at Dalhousie University)
A wetland is a low-lying area of land, covered by water long enough to support aquatic plants and wildlife for at least part of their life cycle. Wetlands are highly diverse, productive ecosystems that provide a host of ecological services and form a vital component of diverse landscapes. In addition to providing habitats for a wide variety of species, wetlands also improve water quality through filtration and recharge groundwater supplies by soaking up surface water and letting it seep back into the ground where it’s filtered even further. They also moderate climate change by sequestering carbon in the soil and reduce the effects of drought by providing a valuable source of water and livestock forage. They reduce the effects of flooding and soil erosion by storing runoff water and releasing it slowly downstream, and also provide opportunities for tourism, boating, bird watching, nature photography, hunting, fishing, and other activities.
In early September of 2014, Ducks Unlimited Canada restored the provincially designated wetland on our demonstration site in Glassville. The wetlands are 2.5-3 acres in size and provide a unique experiential learning feature for visitors, as well as the hundreds of school children who participate in Project Webfoot at FBC each year, in partnership with Ducks Unlimited Canada.
As the Acadian Forest Restoration and Biodiversity Apprentice, my project this summer will be to develop and carry out a monitoring plan for the Falls Brook Centre demonstration site. I will be identifying the types of wetland we have, evaluating the wetlands’ health, and continuously monitoring water temperature and quality throughout the summer. This will be part of an ongoing project to restore the wetlands to provide the optimal habitat for the Barn Swallows, among other species.
Creating, re-establishing, and restoring a wetland has benefits that go beyond their aesthetics. They provide a variety of ecological services that hold the integrity of the landscape together. Ducks Unlimited Canada has stated that up to 70% of our country’s wetlands have been degraded. We are excited to help restore our own wetland and educate others about why they should restore their own through proper knowledge, monitoring, and restoration efforts.