Wetlands are vital green infrastructure, providing countless ecosystem services. A wetland’s ability to provide these services is dependent on their ecological functions, which are affected by the quality of water entering from the surrounding environment. For this reason, wetlands benefit from the implementation of other types green infrastructure (e.g. low impact development) on a watershed scale. Wetland conservation and green infrastructure policy are intrinsically linked.
The Province of Ontario has released its Wetland Conservation Strategy, which outlines a framework to guide wetland conservation across the province into the year 2030. The Strategy describes the many ecosystem services that wetlands provide, and includes several mentions of green infrastructure, including:
- The definition of Green Infrastructure: “The conservation of wetlands — including the creation of wetlands — is an alternative to traditional infrastructure that will help to build resilience to the effects of climate change and improve wetland functions and ecosystem services”
- Strategic direction – Knowledge: “Enhance expertise and guidance for restoring wetlands (constructed wetlands and green infrastructure) and thereby the success in restoring wetland functions and benefits.”
- Strategic direction – Conservation:
- “Develop best management practices for activities in proximity to wetlands (e.g. establish limits for surface and groundwater withdrawals, draining or infilling in or near vulnerable wetlands, in order to enhance the resiliency of these wetlands to change) and for wetland creation as part of green infrastructure or alternatives to traditional infrastructure to help build resilience and improve other ecosystem services.”
- “Integrate the economic value and the value of the ecosystem services provided by wetlands into decision-making (e.g. promoting green infrastructure alternatives to traditional infrastructure).”
The Province of Ontario is exploring the creation of a wetland offsetting policy to achieve their goal of net zero wetland loss.
Read the full plan here.