Fraser River estuary being maintained to benefit people, not wildlife: study

BY MARK HUME originally appearing in The Globe and Mail 

VANCOUVER – Few cities in the world can claim the kind of wild backdrop that Metro Vancouver has.

The Fraser River estuary is a globally important zone of biodiversity with 17,000 hectares of rich wetlands used annually by 1.4 million migratory birds and 2 billion juvenile salmon. The area’s importance was recognized in 2012 under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.

The estuary, which spreads along the shorelines of Delta, Richmond and Vancouver, is a remarkable natural treasure that deserves the highest level of protection a government can provide. Unfortunately, a new study shows that the Fraser estuary is slowly being eroded by development despite a 30-year-old federal policy that has sought to protect the area from any net loss of habitat by requiring developers to replace any that are destroyed.

A paper recently published by the Community Mapping Network (CMN) looked at a large sample of the 151 habitat-compensation projects completed over nearly three decades. It found that most of the projects had failed to achieve the goals set by government.

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Under Pressure

It powers industry and is the lifeblood of healthy communities. But years of reduced federal oversight, Mark Hume writes, have left the government with major decisions about managing a resource we take for granted.

BY MARK HUME originally  appearing in The Globe and Mail 

Canadians, unlike billions of people around the world, see clean water as their birthright. Images of pristine water are rooted deep in the Canadian psyche, from Tom Thomson’s Cold Spring in Algonquin Park, to photos of Pierre Elliott Trudeau canoeing on fresh northern lakes.

As a commodity, water touches every facet of the Canadian economy. It powers industry and washes away industrial, urban and agricultural waste. Without it, turbines don’t spin, croplands become dust bowls, and rainforests burn.

But water resources can’t be protected by our good intentions alone – that takes government policy. Continue reading →