March 26, 2009

Whitemouth Bog Ecological Reserve, Whitemouth Bog Wildlife Management Area and Observation Point Wildlife Management Area (WMA) have been added to Manitoba’s network of protected areas, Conservation Minister Stan Struthers announced today.

“These new protected areas will help the province meet its commitments to increase the number of ecological reserves and designate new wildlife management areas,” said Struthers. “These designations will also contribute to Manitoba’s climate change and wetland protection commitments.”

Whitemouth Bog Ecological Reserve covers 5,020 hectares, Whitemouth Bog WMA is 3,010 ha and Observation Point WMA is 6,530 ha (of which 6,010 ha is protected).  In total, these areas will add 14,040 ha of new land to Manitoba’s network of protected areas.

Included in the newly protected areas is 11,000 ha of significant wetlands which provide a wealth of ecosystem services including carbon storage, improved water quality, reduced nutrient loading in Lake Winnipeg, reduced flooding and provision of habitat for many of Manitoba’s wildlife species, the minister said.

“These ecologically significant areas have unique characteristics that will be protected and safeguarded,” said Struthers.  “For example, the Whitemouth Bog Ecological Reserve and Wildlife Management Area protect a calcerous fen which is one of the rarest wetland types in North America.  The Whitemouth Bog is also home to the yellow rail which is a bird species of special concern under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.”

These protected areas will be free from logging, mining, hydroelectric, oil and gas development as well as other activities that could significantly and adversely affect natural habitat.

The right of First Nations and other Aboriginal people to access protected areas for hunting, trapping, fishing and other traditional pursuits will be respected in these protected areas, said Struthers.

There are now 81 wildlife management areas in Manitoba encompassing some 1.89 million hectares of valuable habitat.  There are now 22 ecological reserves in Manitoba.

Since 1999, approximately 869,000 hectares of land has been permanently protected in parks, wildlife management areas and ecological reserves as work continues to expand Manitoba’s vital network of protected areas.

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