Although city is proactive in maintaining wetlands, developments show evidence of impact

Morgan Stromsmoe stands in front of a frozen wetland on Calgary’s south side. He points to a nearby company that has built an expansive parking lot that covers what used to be a rich habitat for plants and animals.

Stromsmoe, who works for Ducks Unlimited Canada, says if this area had been left at peace, it would be teeming with life. The pussy willows were once tall enough for deer to hide behind and the shorter plant life was home to many insects.

“Wetlands are really important on the landscape,” he says, adding that that wetlands serve as filters for run-off, heavy metals and pesticides. The wetland vegetation can absorb those materials and purify the water for the city.

While Stromsmoe sees evidence of city development around him, he also gives the City of Calgary credit, saying, “Calgary is one of the most proactive cities in Canada in regards to wetlands and the conservation of wetlands.”

Did you know?

  • Wetlands provide many environmental services that contribute to human health and economic well being.
  • Wetlands function as natural water retention ponds, prevent flooding, filter and purify water, replenish and store groundwater, reduce erosion and protect shorelines.
  • Wetlands provide exceptional biodiversity.
  • One-third of Canada’s species at risk depend on wetlands for all or part of their lifecycle.
  • Wetlands will also play a crucial role in the future of climate change.
  • While they occupy only six per cent of the world’s land surface, wetlands hold twice the carbon found in the tropical forests of the world.

Source: Ducks Unlimited Canada

The city recently celebrated World Wetlands Day by holding an information session for Calgarians.

Sid Andrews, interpretation coordinator at the City of Calgary, helped organize the event by sharing information about wetlands during a conversation with about 20 people in attendance.

Andrews described a number of ways wetlands affect our everyday lives including purifying our water of toxins, protecting our shorelines and providing a home for many plants and animals.

“I guess more than anything they add to our quality of life because we enjoy having water around us whether it’s a wetland or a river,” he added.

The City hopes that by hosting these types of events, citizens will go out and explore our wetlands, parks and green spaces.

Sid Andrews, interpretation coordinator at the City of Calgary, said that informing Calgarians about wetlands is an important step towards seeing them take action on preserving the natural resources.

Photo by Deja Leonard

He said, “We hope that people will start thinking in terms of, ‘What can I do to help out a wetland today?’”

dleonard@cjournal.ca