Vancouver – The province is investing $27 million in watershed initiatives and wetlands projects across British Columbia through the Healthy Watersheds Initiative. This initiative aims to stimulate British Columbia’s economic recovery by investing in community-driven watershed conservation and restoration projects. The funding was dispersed to about 70 watershed and wetland projects, which were administered through grants by the Real Estate Foundation of BC and Watersheds BC.
The BCWF received almost 20 percent of the available funds for their Wetlands Workforce Program. This program will engage communities to conserve and restore more than 70 wetland project sites across the province. The B.C. Wildlife Federation will receive $5 million to maintain important wetlands across the Province in 2021.
BCWF Director of Conservation Stewardship Neil Fletcher said, “Through the Healthy Watersheds Initiative, the Wetlands Workforce Program is partnering with Indigenous Communities and Conservation groups to address essential maintenance of riparian habitat across the province. Over the course of the year, 70 wetlands will receive some much-needed care, while monitoring and data collection at these sites will allow us to determine the effectiveness of restoration techniques.”
The key objectives of the Wetlands Workforce are to:
- Provide employment opportunities for people affected by the recent economic recession, targeting women, people under 30 and Indigenous peoples;
- Enhance riparian area habitat and stabilize shorelines at previously restored wetlands by managing weeds, protecting trees and planting native species;
- Monitor the effectiveness of these wetland restoration sites to inform best management practices and adaptive management needs;
- Advance collaborative wetland restoration projects through planning processes that involve First Nations and community engagement;
- Support province-wide monitoring initiatives that will improve wetland management by developing better wetland inventories and decision-making tools.
“Not only are we addressing important conservation initiatives, but we are providing good sustainable jobs to over 100 people,” Fletcher said. “The work we do this year is an opportunity to advance reconciliation among Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities while jump–starting an economy that fully integrates restoration and conservation into the future.”
Although 2021 funding for wetland restoration comes through the one-time stimulus grant, the Water Security Coalition and BCWF are optimistic that the provincial and federal governments can work together to create an endowment fund for ongoing water security.
The Wetlands Workforce is supported through the Healthy Watersheds Initiative, which is delivered by the Real Estate Foundation of BC and Watersheds BC, with financial support from the Province of British Columbia as part of its $10-billion COVID-19 response.
Wetlands Workforce Program can be found here: wetlandsworkforce.ca