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Wetland Symposium

Wetland Conservation and Farming: Is it Time to Look at the Issue From the Other Side of the Fence?


KIM L. SCHMITT AND EARL W. STAMM

Ducks Unlimited Canada, Number 8, 5580 43rd Street, Red Deer, AB, T4N 1L1 Canada

The need to conserve wetlands is recognized with different degrees of clarity at global, national, provincial, and municipal levels. In Canada, valued pothole complexes occur within agriculturally dominated landscapes in high density clusters. Wetlands within the continent's pothole moraines continue to undergo conversion into agricultural production land.

Two distinct sets of perceptions of wetlands exist. The landowner perceives the step-by-step conversion of wetlands as a logical improvement of the land base for the purpose for which it was acquired. Conservationists perceive the wetlands and complexes which they form as irreplaceable components of highly-valued ecosystems which are fundamental to sustaining both specific wildlife populations and overall ecosystem biodiversity.

Programs and initiatives aimed at conservation of the pothole wetlands must recognize that landowners hold the key to decisions concerning their land and its use. In contrast to the perception of many conservationists who view the issue from the global, national, and provincial level, these needs can only be addressed on land owned by a surprisingly small number of landowners. Successes in conservation of the pothole wetlands will occur when conservationists seek to employ win-win solutions that acknowledge the perspective of these relatively few.


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