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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Ducks on Canadian Prairie to Benefit from New Agriculture Programs

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MEMPHIS, Tenn., Dec. 8, 2005 - Waterfowl on the famed Prairie Pothole Region of Canada will benefit from a partnership between Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Canadian government to help protect waterfowl production on the Canadian prairies. The focus of the work is to identify and develop scientifically based, on-farm beneficial management practices to include in Canada’s Agricultural Policy Framework.

Once implemented, the environmental assets like clean air and water resulting from these practices – known as ecological goods and services – would generate income for farmers while protecting key waterfowl habitat in the Prairie Pothole Region. The program to receive funding under this partnership will determine the potential of Canada's Prairie Pothole Region to store carbon and reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The plan has just received final approval from Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Each has committed $300,000 per year for three years – for a total of $2.7 million – to fund the effort.

“This work is cutting-edge science that is based on quite a different approach than is characteristic of most waterfowl conservation programs,” said DU Canada’s Director of Conservation Programs Dr. Henry Murkin. “However, it has profound implications for the future of waterfowl production on millions of acres of prairie upland habitat and hundreds of thousands of prairie pothole wetlands.”

Murkin says this is a wonderful example of the hard work that DU and the Canadian government are doing together to more fully recognize the importance of beneficial management practices on Canada’s farmlands.

“We have worked very hard to develop a good relationship with agricultural concerns in the Canadian government to conserve waterfowl habitat in harmony with the agricultural community,” Murkin said.

The Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food in Canada, the Honourable Andy Mitchell agreed. “We’re pleased to support this project, because a healthy and vibrant agricultural industry benefits all Canadians,” he said.

The Canadian Prairie Pothole Region, spanning Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, contains 80 percent of the agricultural land in Canada. It is also broadly recognized as the most important waterfowl production habitat in North America. Ducks Unlimited has worked on these landscapes for almost 70 years with more than 17,000 farmers in a wide variety of land management and conservation programs that benefit waterfowl.

“This new work promises to greatly expand opportunities for waterfowl conservation while bringing in a multitude of new partners and funding sources that have completely compatible priorities for the future of the prairies” said Dr. Murkin.

DU and the government have worked together for several years to define promising agricultural practices that provide environmental assets that farmers can get paid for and protect waterfowl habitat.

The importance of recognizing the values of ecological goods and services was first highlighted in a report commissioned by DU from Dr. Nancy Olewiler, director of public policy at Simon Frazier University in Vancouver, British Columbia. The report, “The Value of Natural Capital in Settled Areas of Canada,” was released in 2004.

Contact: Bruce Batt
Ducks Unlimited Chief Biologist
901-758-3786
bbatt@ducks.org

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands − nature’s most productive ecosystem − and continues to lose more than 100,000 wetland acres each year.

 

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