Fredericton- As some municipalities and developers lobby to weaken wetland protection in New Brunswick, conservation and environmental groups are calling on government to defend wetland protection.
“Wetlands are invaluable. Among other things, they provide us with flood control and water purification services that would cost us an incomprehensible amount of money in terms of man-made infrastructure,” said Stephanie Merrill, CCNB’s Freshwater Protection Coordinator.
The New Brunswick Wetlands Conservation Policy has guided wetland protection since 2002. The rules for protecting wetlands have not changed, but to assist municipalities and developers in identifying the potential for wetlands on land slated for development, the Department of Environment published an on-line map in January to aid in their identification. Some have seized this as an opportunity to ramp up their ongoing lobby to weaken wetland protection.
Adam Campbell, Ducks Unlimited’s Conservation Program Specialist is surprised by the controversy. “The policy itself hasn’t actually changed, we’ve just got a new tool to help identify where wetlands might be,” said Campbell. “This actually has a lot of benefits for developers and landowners in helping them to avoid costly surprises,” he said.
It was the once “hard to see” wetlands that were causing planning problems for developers and municipalities. The Department of Environment created the on-line map in response. It is expected its use will reduce time and money in identifying and assessing wetland areas for both developers and government.
Environment Minister Margaret-Ann Blaney has indicated that a round of public meetings will be held around the province in order to hear the concerns. CCNB is encouraging people to attend the meetings. “We don’t need a new Wetland Conservation Policy, we need New Brunswickers to show support for wetland protection”, says Merrill.