If one drop of water is precious, then keeping more than a billion liters of water cycling through wetland systems calls for celebration. In 2015, Ducks Unlimited, The Coca-Cola Company, and The Coca-Cola Foundation joined forces to conserve wetland habitat and protect water resources. At the end of 2018, that partnership has resulted in the conservation of 1,000 acres of wetland habitat and the replenishment of more than 1 billion liters of water on the landscape.
“Coca-Cola relies on water for our business; it’s the main ingredient in virtually everything we make,” says Coca-Cola’s Water Sustainability Program Director Jon Radtke. “You need to have healthy watersheds in order to have healthy and economically viable communities.”
For DU, the opportunity to conserve wetland habitat in one of our highest-priority areas, the Prairie Pothole Region, arm-in-arm with an internationally recognized brand, is a perfect fit. Thus far, the partnership has helped restore and protect more than 1,000 acres of vital wetlands in the best-of-the-best breeding habitat in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
An additional gift from The Coca-Cola Foundation in early 2019 is on track to add another 244 acres of conserved habitat. As has been the case with earlier investments, these dollars will purchase perpetual conservation easements to protect wetland habitat from loss and will restore drained wetland basins to healthy functionality.
All these acres are part of a larger landscape-level initiative to conserve both wetland and upland acres, so while the entirety of Coke’s gift has been invested in “wet” acres, DU has leveraged these dollars with other public and private sources to conserve additional acres of upland habitat as nesting cover and natural buffers against sediment and nutrients on agricultural landscapes. In doing so, DU ensures that Coke’s investment is targeted to acres that are important to the company but also delivers a broader ecological impact, providing clean water, flood protection, carbon storage, and habitat for a diversity of wildlife.
To date, The Coca Cola Company and The Coca Cola Foundation have generously provided over $1 million for DU’s conservation work in the Prairie Pothole Region.