What is a wetland?
According to the Quebec Environment Quality Act (section 46.0.2):
…” wetlands and bodies of water” refer to natural or man-made sites characterized by the permanent or temporary presence of water, which may be diffused, occupy a bed or saturate the ground and whose state is stagnant or flowing. If the water is flowing, its flow may be constant or intermittent.
What do wetlands do?
- Play a crucial role in Hudson’s cultural identity and quality of life
- Provide important biodiversity habitat for many plants and animals (some rare or endangered), including many migratory birds;
- Mitigate flooding by acting like a living sponge that stores water and reduces flow during spring thaws and heavy rainfall
- Act as natural filters, improving water quality in rivers and lakes
- Control erosion during heavy rainfall events
- Are, of course, great at storing carbon and cleaning the air around us
Why should we protect wetlands in Hudson, our region and beyond?
Given the myriad benefits that wetlands provide both at home and globally, we should all be responsible for ensuring these areas are adequately protected and sustainably managed both now and into the future.
Southern Quebec is the province’s most biodiverse region, and the loss of wetlands represents a huge problem for many plant and animal species, some rare and endangered. According to Ducks Unlimited, Quebec’s remaining wetlands host more than a third (38%) of species at risk and a quarter of all the rare plants in the province.
Despite their relatively small surface area, they play a disproportionally large role in climate change mitigation. Why? Because they trap and store carbon from the atmosphere. Wetlands are one of the world’s most important global carbon sinks. Their soils, especially those of peat or forested wetlands, store almost a third (30%) of all the soil carbon in the world! Unfortunately, draining or otherwise altering our remaining wetlands will limit their ability to function as a significant carbon sink. In fact, it could be reversed! Draining and changing wetlands will likely lead to carbon being released to the atmosphere, adding to rather than mitigating climate change.
So how well are we managing our remaining wetlands southern Quebec? There is certainly more that can be done. Read this La Presse article (May 2019) about the recent loss of wetlands in Québec and watch the short video below to find out more about the vital role wetlands play.