The Atlantic Canada region contains a wide diversity of habitats, waterfowl and wildlife communities. Major river systems, such as the St. Lawrence and St. John rivers, along with coastal habitats, play a crucial role for waterfowl populations in the Atlantic Flyway. Loss of wetlands or wetland functions began in the 1600s and has continued because of land use activities such as agricultural and urban expansion. Wetland losses have contributed to declines in waterfowl numbers. This prompted the development of landscape visions to provide a clear picture of the habitat base, as well as the waterfowl and wildlife benefits accruing from this habitat. The coastal and agricultural landscapes are intimately linked with waterfowl moving freely between landscapes often on a daily basis.
Importance to waterfowl
- The coastal landscape supports a diverse waterfowl community of more than 30 species.
- Waterfowl use this area throughout the year, with significant numbers during staging, breeding and wintering.
- The region produces birds important to the Atlantic Flyway such as American black ducks, green-winged teal, ringed-necked ducks, mergansers, goldeneyes, scoters and eiders.
- The annual fall flight is estimated at 7.8 million birds.
- Intensification of resource extraction is placing additional stress on the environment and increasing interactions between waterfowl and humans.
- Human activities result in considerable direct mortality of waterfowl and seabirds in this landscape with significant losses being attributed to oiling, gill nets and harvest.
- Depredation of ducklings by great black-backed gulls is also a significant source of mortality.
- Upgrading and maintenance of land drainage continues to reduce the extent of wetland areas.
DU's conservation focus
- Develop initiatives to conserve existing coastal areas to protect molting, staging and wintering habitat.
- Maintain diverse habitat quality and quantity needed to sustain current breeding waterfowl numbers.
- Develop new initiatives that address problems of survival and recruitment of sea ducks.
- Acquire wetland inventories and more complete waterfowl surveys to focus conservation programs.