Change Is Coming
The contiguous United States and southern Canada have suffered severe waterfowl habitat losses
with some areas having lost more than 90 percent of their historical wetlands. In contrast, the Boreal region, along with its extensive wetland and water resources, remains one of the world's most pristine ecosystems. While the majority of the Boreal remains untrammeled, new pressures are changing the landscape on an unprecedented scale. Climate change is reducing the size, number, and diversity of wetlands in some regions. Along the Boreal's southern boundary, where a milder climate and fertile soil are suitable for agriculture, wetlands and forest are being converted to cropland at an alarming rate. In addition, some of the world's largest oil reserves are located in the Boreal and Arctic regions. As natural resources development expands across these areas, many of the habitats that support breeding waterfowl and provide other important ecological services face new threats.
The Opportunity Is Now
The Boreal region of North America represents one of the best opportunities for conservation on this planet. For more than 15 years, Ducks Unlimited's Boreal program has been working to conserve and advance our understanding of this region's wetlands and associated habitats. This renewed $60 million partnership between The Pew Charitable Trusts
, DU Inc., and DU Canada, along with a broad consortium of industry partners, researchers, First Nations, and governments, is leading the charge to conserve the Boreal for future generations. This partnership will provide the resources needed to achieve a better understanding of how Boreal habitats function; influence policies that conserve wetlands and other vital waterfowl habitats
; and increase public appreciation of the region's cultural, ecological, and economic importance. Such a comprehensive effort would not be possible without a collaborative approach involving many diverse partners, united by their commitment to conserving this important ecosystem.
SAVING THE BEST OF THE BEST The proposed Ts'ude niline Tu'eyeta (Ramparts) National Wildlife Area is a good example of how Ducks Unlimited and its partners are working to protect the most important waterfowl breeding areas in the Boreal region. This 3.8-million-acre tract in Canada's Northwest Territories includes more than 30,000 wetland basins as well as vast peatlands and associated forest that sequester large amounts of carbon. DU biologists surveyed more than 60 duck pairs per square mile on wetlands in this area, one of the highest densities of breeding waterfowl outside of the Prairie Pothole Region.
This area has also been designated as a special cultural and ecological site by the Sahtu Dene and Métis people, and a Key Migratory Bird Terrestrial Habitat site by Environment Canada. DU is working collaboratively with the Sahtu Dene, the Métis, the government of the Northwest Territories, and Environment Canada through a multi-step process to achieve permanent protection of this important waterfowl breeding area.