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Conservation in Canada

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Challenges Aplenty

Breeding habitat is vital to the sustainability of North America's ducks, but landscapes are constantly changing. In British Columbia, urban development squeezes remnant farmland and coastal marshes vital to wintering wigeon and pintails, while aquaculture competes with wintering sea ducks for space and food. In the western boreal forest, rapid oil and gas development, oil sands projects of staggering scale, and intensive forest management are fundamentally reshaping the land, and average temperatures have soared by nearly 7 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 50 years. Agriculture continues to gnaw away at the southern edge of the forest where soils and warmer temperatures can support annual cropping. In Prairie Canada, wetland drainage remains the single greatest threat to sustaining waterfowl populations.

Larger farm machinery, higher input costs, and tighter margins motivate farmers to remove the "wet areas" in their way. Ten-thousand-year-old native grasslands are endangered too with commodity prices periodically inflated by short-sighted dreams of biofuel rewards. The same pressures on prairie wetlands apply on more commercially valuable lands in southern Ontario and Quebec. All along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence lowlands agriculture competes with urban expansion for land, and natural areas like wetlands are often squeezed dry in the process. In Atlantic Canada, add the effects of rising seas on coastal wetlands to the litany of challenges. Without the support of our continental partners, Canada's conservation community would simply be overwhelmed by the breadth and scale of these challenges.

Canada's active waterfowl hunters numbered about 126,000 in 2008, down from 411,000 just 30 years ago. DU Canada has been steadily adding supporters (172,000) and volunteers (7,400), but with a smaller conservation community, a tax base only 10 percent as large as that of the United States, and a citizenry spread out across the globe's second largest country, Canada is indeed challenged to achieve large-scale conservation results.

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