Great Lakes coastal wetlands provide over 40 million people with ecosystem functions such as flood protection and water purification. They provide refuge to countless species, including resident and migratory birds, moose, bears, beavers, turtles, and aquatic vegetation, making them highly biodiverse systems. They provide critical spawning and nursery habitat for economically and ecologically important species of the Great Lakes fish community. Additionally, they also play an integral role in human recreation and happiness because of their intrinsic calm and beauty. With such, we know they need to be protected.
In Ontario, a wetland must be assessed using the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System (OWES) in order to be considered “Provincially Significant”, and therefore given protection under the Provincial Policy Statement. We know that we have lost more than 70% of wetland habitat in Ontario since European settlement; even though the wetland evaluation system has been in place since the mid-1980s, a recent study shows that wetlands in southern Ontario continue to decrease due to development pressure.
Georgian Bay, Lake Huron, is the largest freshwater archipelago in the world, and contains some of the highest-quality and biologically diverse wetlands in the Great Lakes watershed. Due to its unique physical and biological characteristics, and the high number of small wetlands, it is difficult to assess and protect Georgian Bay coastal wetlands under current OWES guidelines. Given the high quality of these sites, a new category of coastal wetlands should be created for Georgian Bay where changes could be incorporated.
Dr. Chow-Fraser's lab at McMaster University has focused its research extensively on wetlands in the Great Lakes region and has compiled a document with various comments and suggestions for the Ministry to consider. If you’d like to assist and protect our wetlands and, you can submit this document on the Environmental Registry website to show the Ministry how important these lands are to Canadians. It will take you no more than a couple minutes!
Directions: Go to this website and click on "Submit Comment" on the right side. Fill out your information and copy and paste this summary document (Most of which is identical to above. A more detailed explanation of the summary document can be found here if you are looking for more information or clarification. It is only for reference - you do not need to submit it).
The deadline is March 12, 2012. Please help support this cause. This UNESCO World Biosphere needs to be protected from degradation.