The following is a response published in the 17/09/2018 Winnipeg Free Press Letters section Re: We must lead on freshwater protection (Sept. 11)
Dan Kraus noted that “Canada has approximately 25 per cent of the world’s wetlands by area and more lakes than the rest of the world combined.”
We are blessed as a nation with an abundance of fresh water, yet we are squandering this life-giving resource. One only needs to look at the algae blooms menacing Lake Winnipeg to understand that our water stewardship is inadequate.
It is far less costly to conserve our healthy watersheds now than to try to restore polluted water systems in the future. The good news is there is money on the table to conserve lands and waters for our future.
The Manitoba government recently established a $102-million Conservation Trust Fund intended to support the goals and objectives of our provincial climate strategy, particularly those related to conserving nature.
The federal budget allocates $1.3 billion over five years “to expand protected areas and help endangered and threatened species” — a move that reflects its pledge to safeguard at least 17 per cent of Canada’s land and inland waters by 2020.
Thankfully, the Manitoba government has committed to helping Canada achieve this target. Manitoba already has many mechanisms in place to conserve our clean waterways and lands through resource management area planning and the establishment of provincial parks and other protected areas.
To date, Manitoba has only protected approximately 11 per cent of its wildlands and freshwaters.
It is time to think big. We can conserve entire watersheds. We can develop landscape-scale plans to determine which areas are best suited for commercial developments and which areas should be conserved.
Manitoba is large enough and still wild enough to protect nature while also growing our economy.
Executive director, Manitoba chapter
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society