Wetlands Ecol Manage (2009) 17:3–14 DOI 10.

1007/s11273-008-9078-6

ORIGINAL PAPER

Wetland mitigation and compensation: Canadian experience
Clayton D. A. Rubec Æ Alan R. Hanson

Received: 24 May 2007 / Accepted: 30 December 2008 / Published online: 15 January 2008 Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Abstract Since Canada’s accession to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1981, the nation’s commitment to wetland conservation and management has increased significantly. This includes the adoption of one of the World’s first national wetland conservation policies by the Government of Canada, and the adoption of complementary policy and legislative initiatives by most of the 13 provincial and territorial jurisdictions. Numerous habitat ‘no net loss’ and environmental assessment policies, regulations and guidelines for incorporating mitigation processes into development decisions affecting wetland resources are used throughout Canada. The governments of Canada and six provinces have so far adopted wetland mitigation measures. These are in addition to comprehensive wetland fish and wildlife habitat initiatives, such as the species and habitat joint ventures delivered in Canada through the North American Waterfowl Management Plan by all jurisdictions and numerous non-government partners. This paper examines the current policies, regulations and programs, as well as past

implementation experience with wetland mitigation and compensation in Canada. Keywords Wetland conservation Á Policy Á Mitigation hierarchy Á Canada

Introduction Wetlands in Canada remain under constant threat of loss and degradation due to industrial development, expansion of ports, construction of hydro-electric reservoirs and facilities, urban expansion, fluctuating water levels (especially in the Great Lakes Basin) and agriculture. Mitigation of the impacts of development projects and land-use decisions on wetlands has been achieved in Canada through a suite of policy and regulatory initiatives. However, the development of standardized approaches to wetland mitigation remains elusive in most areas of Canada. Unlike some nations, no single government in Canada has the mandate to develop or enforce a mitigation approach applicable to all jurisdictions. The Canadian Constitution recognizes that natural resources such as wetlands and their conservation and management planning are mainly provincial responsibilities. The Government of Canada is directly responsible for only about 29% of the wetlands in Canada—those occurring on federal lands (such as National Parks, military reserves and National Wildlife

C. D. A. Rubec (&) Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, 351 St. Joseph Blvd, Gatineau, QC, Canada K1A 0H3 e-mail: clay.rubec@ec.gc.ca A. R. Hanson Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, P.O. Box 6227, Sackville, NB, Canada E4L 4N1 e-mail: al.hanson@ec.gc.ca

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and compensation have occurred (see Hill 2005. (1999). and hydro-electric reservoirs. During the 1997– 2007 period. Intermountain. all levels of government directly cooperate in shared wetland management initiatives such as the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) and its delivery through the four Canadian Habitat Joint Ventures (Pacific Coast. how 123 . water issues. and decisions by the Government of Canada (Table 1). ports and harbours. 2000). The Guide outlines a three-step mitigation sequence of avoidance. (1993). The Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada is responsible for coordinating the implementation of the policy and for providing expert advice. It is important to note that the FPWC does not focus on prohibitions and regulations. or make specific federal decisions or regulations (CEAA 2003). Prairie and Eastern). (ii) no further loss of wetland area where wetland loss has been severe. Hanson 2005. particularly on mitigation (Lynch-Stewart et al. environmental protection. Jurisdictional experience The purpose of this paper is to review the current status of regulations. provincial and territorial jurisdictions. 1996). three territories and the Government of Canada). grant an interest in lands. applies to lands under federal jurisdiction and to programs. Although supporting Guidelines for Wetlands under CEAA have been published (Milko 1998). The Implementation Guide for Federal Land Managers (Lynch-Stewart et al. landuse planning. 1996) has supported the FPWC. Key commitments of this policy include: (i) no net loss of wetland functions on federal lands and waters and in areas affected by federal programs through the mitigation of impacts of development related to these wetlands.g. The approaches currently being applied to implementation of a wetland mitigation hierarchy in Canada vary among the federal. Despite this jurisdictional separation of responsibilities. Austen and Hanson 2007). expenditures. It is an overarching policy that influences the development of policies and programs within individual federal departments. These are reviewed below. minimization and compensation for unavoidable impacts (hereafter referred to as the ‘mitigation hierarchy’).4 Wetlands Ecol Manage (2009) 17:3–14 Areas) as well as for much of the land in Canada’s three northern territories. Wetland conservation in areas of federal jurisdiction is the responsibility of all departments. The Act also governs projects where federal agencies are proponents. agriculture. policies and practises concerning wetland mitigation and compensation in each of the 14 jurisdictions that form the Canadian federation (10 provinces. The Policy directs all federal departments to sustain wetland functions in the delivery of their programs. In addition. with compensation being a last resort. The authors discuss policy objectives and effectiveness and suggest means by which all jurisdictions can protect wetland functions in Canada. The Federal Policy on Wetland Conservation (FPWC). and (iii) enhancement and rehabilitation of wetlands in areas where the continuing loss or degradation of wetlands has reached critical levels. Grose et al. a national review of complementary legislation affecting wetland conservation through wildlife management. many important developments in policy and regulation concerning wetland conservation. agencies and corporations of the Government of Canada. mandated by the Federal Cabinet. The evolution of wetland policy supporting wetland mitigation measures in Canada has been outlined by Lynch-Stewart et al. Rubec (1994). Milko 1998. These governments also jointly implement many activities including shared environmental impact assessment and funding of major development projects such as national highways. forestry and fisheries management and private lands conservation was outlined in Lynch-Stewart et al. but instead its focus is on performance objectives. Government of Canada Canada was one of the first countries to publish a national wetland conservation policy (Government of Canada 1991). The FPWC is an important consideration in federal projects that are evaluated under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA)—federal legislation that governs environmental assessments of projects directly or co-funded by the federal government. mitigation. has been repeatedly emphasized in subsequent Government of Canada and North American Wetlands Conservation Council (Canada) documents (e. and Cox and Grose (1998. 2000). The importance of this mitigation hierarchy. environmental impact assessment.

0 ha wetlands and no net loss of wetland function (b) All coastal features (b) Restrict development within coastal feature and its 30 m buffer No net loss of wetlands and wetland Dept. aesthetics. diversity and productive capacity Sustainable management of water (lakes. wetlands [1. recreational. and sustainability of wildlife habitat and vegetation adjacent to wetlands Conserve. Nova Scotia Environment All wetlands except by permit and Labour (except federal) Department of Environment All wetlands Control activities that may impact and Conservation the hydrology. wetland function in (2) Conservation Authorities Act northern ON (2) Prevent the loss of life and property due to flooding and erosion. enhance and restore wetlands Responsible authority Application (1) Federal: lands. productivity. of Environment. (2) Areas regulated by Conservation Authorities New Brunswick (a) NB Wetlands Conservation Policy (b) NB Coastal Areas Protection Policy Prince Edward Wetland Conservation Island Policy for PEI Nova Scotia Environment Act and Regulations Newfoundland Policy Directive for Development in Wetlands and Labrador ` Ministere du All wetlands ´ Developpement durable. Permit for a HADD (harmful alteration. wetlands) (1) Provincial Policy Statement (1) Protection of: all coastal on Natural Heritage wetlands. waterways.0 ha British Columbia Alberta Saskatchewan Manitoba Ontario Quebec Sustainable management of wetlands to maintain numbers. and to conserve and enhance natural resources Quebec Water Policy Protection of public health and aquatic ecosystems (1) Wetland management in the settled area of Alberta— Interim Policy (2) Draft policy for managing Alberta’s peatlands and Non-settled areas wetlands (3) Provincial wetland policy being developed Wetland Policy Statement Water Management Framework Manitoba Water Strategy All wetlands Saskatchewan Environment Crown waters Manitoba Environment (1) Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (2) Conservation Authorities All wetlands (1) Wetlands regardless of ownership or size. mitigate. destruction or disruption) of fish habitat Mitigation hierarchy Yes Yes Compensation guidelines No Some Reporting guidelines No Some 123 . All wetlands functions Energy & Forestry To prohibit alteration of a wetlands. de l’Environnement et ´ des Parcs du Quebec (a) No loss of provincially significant Department of Environment (a) Wetlands [1. mechanisms. their objectives. application. and presence of compensation and monitoring guidelines in Canada Jurisdiction Government of Canada Primary wetland conservation policies (1) Environment Act—Federal Policy On Wetland Conservation (2) Fisheries Act—Policy for Management of Fish Habitat (1) Wetland Action Plan in Development (2) Forest practices codes— Riparian Areas Policy objective (1) Sustain wetland functions in delivery of government programs (2) Protection of habitats directly or indirectly supporting existing or potential fisheries (1) Na (2) To minimize or prevent impacts of forest and range uses on wetlands and on the diversity. (1) All Departments decisions. Environment Canada has funding oversight role (2) Department of Fisheries (2) All waters and Oceans (1) Wetland Stewardship Partnership (2) Ministry of Forestry and Range (1) Water Resources Commission (2) Water Resources Commission (3) Alberta Environment (1) Na (2) Crown land. Individual Decisions (2) EA. natural functions and uses of wetlands Jurisdiction Government of Canada Mechanism of implementation (1) EA. significant wetlands in southern ON.Wetlands Ecol Manage (2009) 17:3–14 5 Table 1 Federal and provincial wetland conservation policies. adherence to mitigation sequence.

it was recognized that without compensation. While the FPWC does not provide prescriptive guidance. the Government of Canada’s approach to wetland compensation to date has been flexible with the understanding that compensation.g. EA for wetlands [2. Experience has also varied widely depending on the province in which a federal or federally funded project has been implemented. and EA Quebec Environmental Quality Act—Development Permit Watercourse and Wetland Alteration Permit. Initial results of the evaluation indicate that large projects having significant wetland impacts have been required to provide compensation under the FPWC. most of the effort was expended ensuring that the avoidance and minimization aspects of the Policy were adhered to. Environment Canada uses the FPWC when providing expert advice to CEAA concerning referrals on federal projects affecting wetlands or to other federal agencies acting as responsible authorities for such projects.). there is no formula or matrix to quickly determine what compensation is required. It is hoped this project will lead to formal CEAA guidelines for addressing FPWC considerations. profile of the project and financial resources of the proponent. The compensation requirements in case studies outlined by Cox and Grose (2000) were based on the nature of the wetland impacts.0 ha Environmental Assessment Regulations for ‘undertakings’ Mitigation hierarchy No No Yes No No No No Yes Yes Yes No Compensation guidelines No No Yes No No No No Draft Yes Some No Reporting guidelines No No Some No No No No Some Some Some No federal agencies have interpreted (or misinterpreted) the FPWC has had a significant impact on federal decisions under CEAA (pers. Compensation ratios of 3:1 are common but in cases where like-for-like compensation has not occurred. EA for wetlands [2. Stellar 2007). primarily because the FPWC does not provide clear prescriptive recommendations on the form or amount of compensation required (Austen and Hanson 2007). the long-term cumulative outcome of mitigation would be a net loss of wetland function.). However. Watershed Authority Act. comm. Kingsley. EA Permits related to Planning Act. The acceptance and implementation of this federal advice has varied among projects and jurisdictions during the past 16 years (Short 2005. EA Environmental Management & Protection Act. Compensation requirements have also varied because of the specifics of a project and the wetlands involved. comm. pers. It was also apparent that the requirement for compensation acts as a deterrent to activities and projects that would have wetland impacts and ensures that avoidance and minimization are truly practiced. the observed ratios have been higher. Conservation Authorities Act. Environment Canada’s experience with the FPWC indicates a range of both successes and failures in its application to real situations. pers.6 Table 1 continued Jurisdiction British Columbia Alberta Saskatchewan Manitoba Ontario Quebec New Brunswick Prince Edward Island Nova Scotia Newfoundland and Labrador Wetlands Ecol Manage (2009) 17:3–14 Mechanism of implementation (1) None (2) Licence for Forestry Operations and Penalties Water Act permits. Currently. This has been done on a case-by-case basis. 123 .0 ha Environmental Protection Act Environment Act wetland alteration permit. negotiating skills of participants. EA Water Protection Act. the FPWC has been identified as a best practice to minimize adverse environmental impact of projects in areas outside direct federal responsibility (e. must provide a cost-effective mechanism to replace lost wetland functions.). obs. Because the Government of Canada has no legal tools to require the use of the mitigation hierarchy in areas of provincial jurisdiction. An evaluation of the relevance and variability of interpretations by Environment Canada of the FPWC for wetland mitigation and compensation projects has been initiated (Kingsley. Since 1991. During the years immediately following the adoption of the FPWC. if used.

provincial and non-government interests is actively developing a Wetland Action Plan for British Columbia (Table 1).7:1 for lost wetland area with off-site replacement projects.). naturally occurring wetlands. one for its settled ‘white’ agricultural zone and one for the forested ‘green’ zone of Alberta (Table 1). Rudland (2005) describes this provincial process and includes three case studies where compensation ratios ranging from 3:1 to 7. This strategy laid the foundation for the development of a provincial wetland policy and wetland inventories for key ecological areas of the province. British Columbia A provincial wetland conservation policy and direction on mitigation have not yet been instituted in British Columbia. Scatollon 2005) and compensation for ‘harmful alteration. the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Public Works will restore six salt marshes totaling 50 ha as HADD compensation during the 2005–2007 period (Pett. revised February 2007). The draft green zone policy was to focus on environmentally sound natural resources management through industries such as forestry and horticultural peat extraction.g. The FPWC articulates Canada’s commitment to the Wise Use Principle of this international environmental treaty. The WSP is now developing model municipal conservation bylaws (the Green Infrastructure and Sensitive Ecosystems Bylaws Toolkit) for wetlands. Although the Guide is fairly new. adopting the mitigation hierarchy for projects affecting wetlands and a permit application process. restoring or enhancing the condition of the aquatic environment. the Alberta Water Council created the Wetland Policy Project Team whose current task is to develop a comprehensive provincial wetland policy and implementation plan. and a Wetland Evaluation Guide for British Columbia. with on-site and nearby mitigation of degradation in these wetlands. A new Water Act was adopted in 2000. the government developed a Framework for Water Management Planning. planned by early 2008. 2006). During this process.Wetlands Ecol Manage (2009) 17:3–14 7 The importance of wetlands as fish habitat has been recognized (e. The WSP is committed to preparing a discussion paper on wetland mitigation and wetland banking relevant to the province during 2007 (Kirkby. The Forests and Range Practice Act and associated practices codes do offer protection for wetlands greater than 1. the actual mitigation process has been successfully applied for the past six years. but was never implemented. which outlines the Province’s commitments to maintaining. or a no further loss of wetland area policy where impacts are severe. comm. Canada has been a strong advocate of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. pers. grasslands and other sensitive ecosystems. and enhancement and creation of wetlands in areas of significant wetland depletion. Alberta The Government of Alberta initiated a review of its water management policy and legislation in 1991. Alberta Environment has published the Provincial Wetland Restoration/Compensation Guide (Alberta Environment 2005. a no let loss policy. pers. For example. each located from 12 to 67 km away. Wetland Best Management Practices. It explains wetland compensation. There are numerous wetland restoration initiatives in British Columbia despite the lack of a wetland conservation policy.). This process requires submission of a mitigation proposal—a process to help reduce the loss of wetland area—by restoring drained or altered. The FPWC has served as a model for wetland policy and mitigation development by many other Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention (Rubec 2002). All of these efforts are helping develop wetland conservation in the province 123 . disruption or destruction’ (HADD) of fish habitat under the Fisheries Act and its related Policy for the Management of Fish Habitat (Fisheries and Oceans Canada 1986) has included wetland restoration projects. Internationally. Canada has been directly engaged in the preparation of international guidelines for the development and implementation of National Wetland Policies (Rubec et al. comm. In 2003.0 ha on Crown Land (Table 1). The Province in the 1990s developed two separate wetland policies. Whether this will promote mitigation banking. including wetlands. The multi-agency Wetland Stewardship Partnership (WSP) linking federal. In 2005. is not yet clear. The white zone policy concentrated on no net loss of wetland area and function of prairie sloughs and marshes. the Government of Alberta adopted Water for Life: Alberta’s Strategy for Sustainability. The Guide describes how applications under the Water Act will be reviewed when loss of wetland area will occur.

the Government of Manitoba adopted wetland objectives through its Manitoba Water Policies (Table 1). Proposed incentive measures include the Ecological Services Incentives Program. Saskatchewan adopted the Wetland Policy Statement that promotes the sustainable management of wetlands to maintain numbers. entitled Manitoba Stewardship. i. has not adopted any specific no net loss goals. The Policy Statement was complemented by a Guide to Saskatchewan Wetland Policy in the same year. comm. In March 2004. Crown water refers to water bodies and watercourses owned by provincial or federal governments. A farmer needs to satisfy the provisions of this Act and the EMPA. a Manitoba Riparian Tax Credit. Manitoba has focused on the sustainable management of lakes. The Authority is responsible for issuing drainage licences on agricultural Crown lands used Manitoba In 1990. to date. not privately owned. by farmers under lease arrangements. thus excluding isolated basins. and the Habitat Compensation Fund (HCP). and special consideration for waterways. In Saskatchewan crown waters excludes waters on private lands that do not flow into a provincial watercourse. support for Manitoba NAWMP projects. suitable habitat will be transferred in title to the MHHC as needed. It directs a process for protection of all Crown water bodies by requiring a development permit. It appears the Province’s approach will permit landowners to do as they deem appropriate with wetlands on their own lands. Saskatchewan’s Environmental Management and Protection Act (EMPA) was adopted in 2002 through Saskatchewan Environment. Alberta Environment and the Alberta NAWMP Centre. Schroeder (2005) summarizes this HCP process including a case study for expansion of a provincial trunk highway over a 1. and delivery through the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation (MHHC). design of a compensation plan and ongoing monitoring (Schroeder 2005). waterways and wetlands but. and a Wetland Compensation Procedure adopted. Saskatchewan In 1995. diversity and productive capacity of wetlands (Table 1). It is felt that this will limit the effectiveness of mitigation efforts and result in continuing loss of wetlands in Saskatchewan (Thompson 2005).9 km stretch near the Saskatchewan border. Manitoba has established a Water Strategy and Nutrient Management Strategy in 2003.8 Wetlands Ecol Manage (2009) 17:3–14 An Alberta Land Managers Wetland Guide has been developed jointly by Ducks Unlimited Canada. This Policy is currently being revised by the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority (SWA) for completion in 2007 (Hill. The Environmental Law Centre and NAWMP have also co-published Alberta Wetlands: A Law and Policy Guide (Kwasniak 2002). sloughs and marshes.). The Province recognized wetlands as including wet basins and transitional lands of a minimum of 10 m adjacent to these areas in normal full water supply level. except if this causes water to leave their property and affect Crown waters. pers. The EMPA also has a wide array of other exclusions. funding for mitigation of highway construction projects affecting wetlands. wetland and sensitive landscapes as key areas for watershed conservation efforts to assist in water protection efforts. The Saskatchewan Watershed Authority Act was adopted in 2005. This legislation does not directly identify mitigation measures. The HCP is to be delivered through a Memorandum of Understanding between Manitoba Highways and Manitoba Conservation. but this is not yet provincial policy. Legal definitions of crown land and water vary among federal and provincial governments. the Policy Statement has no provisions for mitigation. and advanced wetland conservation through the creation of a new provincial agency. The Watershed Authority uses the Act to licence on-farm wetland drainage. These objectives include conservation of wetland values. retention of wetlands with regulation where required. impact assessment. Habitat losses and gains are to be monitored. This procedure requires an environmental survey. the Manitoba Government also formally tabled the Water Protection Act. The project affected 0. The Act lists riparian.e.4 ha of 123 . A no net loss goal for wetlands and a mitigation hierarchy is included in the HCP. A group of provincial government agencies and Ducks Unlimited Canada has also produced the Wetlands and Uplands Mitigation Guidelines for Road Construction that recommends use of the mitigation hierarchy. However.

Ontario Ontario has had policies and programs related to wetlands for over 20 years (Schulte-Hostedde et al. seeks to develop and implement an action plan for the protection. Conservation Authorities can prohibit. New Brunswick The New Brunswick Wetlands Conservation Policy (WCP). their floodplains and wetlands. developed by the provincial Department of Environment and adopted in 2002. The WCP describes seven criteria by which a wetland would be considered significant. the PPS regarding Water states that mitigation measures and/or alternative development approaches may be required in order to protect. (ii) significant coastal wetlands throughout the province (e. Individual wetlands are designated as ‘provincially significant’ based on review of the wetland’s characteristics in relation to the Policy’s criteria. It will extend a provincial policy on ecological controlled flows for the protection of fish and their habitats and apply to other aquatic ecosystem features. although work has been initiated to develop one. no further loss of wetland area is sought. the province has committed itself to no loss of provincially significant wetland habitat and to no net loss of wetland functions for all other wetlands in the province. which is part ´ of the Loi sur la qualite de l’environnement (LQE). This is similar to a FPWC goal that. and (iii) significant wetlands in northern Ontario (unless it has been demonstrated that there will be no negative impacts on the natural features or their ecological functions). change. and development of the banks and littoral zones of lakes and waterways.Wetlands Ecol Manage (2009) 17:3–14 9 wetlands with no viable alternative measures possible on site. and their hydrologic functions. There is also a mitigation aspect to Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act.g. Although the PPS on Natural Heritage features does not refer to a mitigation hierarchy or compensation. At present. The PPS regarding Natural Heritage prohibits development and site alteration in: (i) significant wetlands in southern Ontario. 123 . Current legislation and policy does not require a proponent to undertake wetland compensation or restoration in the case of wetland destruction following an approval issued by the MDDEP. The Quebec Water Policy. proposed projects that will affect any wetland in Quebec are subject to a certificate of ` ´ approval issued by the Ministere du Developpement durable de l’Environnement et des Parcs (MDDEP) under section 22 of the LQE (Table 1). mitigate or remedy the effects upon the environment. in some areas and for some wetland types where severe losses have occurred. sensitive groundwater features. in that an environmental assessment must include a description of the actions necessary (or that may reasonably be expected) to prevent. regardless of land ownership. further policy development supporting the Water Protection Act. The conservation of wetlands through the PPS is complemented by the Conservation Authorities Act and the Development. The 2005 Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) for the Planning Act includes statements regarding the wise use and management of natural resources. such as coastal marshes. regulate or provide permission for impacts to watercourses. One criterion is to include all wetlands of a certain type that are a remnant of a more widespread distribution in the past. outlines conservation objectives for wetlands. Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses Regulation. shorelines and wetlands. The protection of wetlands in Ontario is done primarily through the province’s Planning Act and the Conservation Authorities Act (Table 1). restoration. Ongoing initiatives to support the Wetland Compensation Procedure include the adoption of a Wetland Classification System for AgroManitoba. The WCPs goal of ‘‘no net loss of wetland function. improve or restore sensitive surface water features. and advancing a range of Ecological Goods and Services projects in partnership with Ducks Unlimited Canada.’’ applies to all wetlands greater than one hectare in size. Great Lakes). Funds were transferred from Manitoba Highways to MHHC to support a wetland compensation project in this case. means to achieve these objectives and the responsibilities of the different provincial departments (Table 1). Through this Policy. Quebec The Province of Quebec does not currently have a wetland policy. including ‘Natural Heritage’ and ‘Water’. 2007).

The Policy also provides recommendations for wetland compensation and associated costs that will be made by a committee of wetland experts comprised of representatives of the federal government (Environment Canada). compensation. minimization. Environmental Assessment Regulations. A provincial technical review team. The WCP specifically requires ‘‘avoidance in the planning stage. where the wetland is greater than or equal to 1 ha in size. The Prince Edward Island Wetland Conservation Policy is enabled by the Environmental Protection Act which requires a permit for wetland alterations. a coastal marsh. including guidelines on compensation mechanisms and monitoring. and Approvals Procedure Regulations (Table 1). but also through the Subdivision and Development Regulations of the Planning Act that requires wetland setbacks for building activities and subdivisions that are in proximity to wetlands (see Austen and Hanson 2007). For both regulatory processes. tidal ponds and coastal lagoons. are subject to the environmental impact assessment process of the Clean Environment Act. Under the Activities Designation Regulations. require a Watercourse and Wetland Alteration Permit under the provincial Clean Water Act. It does not specify compensation ratios. but excludes mudflats. Nova Scotia Wetlands in Nova Scotia are managed by the provincial Department of Environment and Labour using the Environment Act and its Activities Designation Regulations. provincial government (Fish and Wildlife Division). alterations disrupting two or more hectares of wetland (by area or function) are first subject to the province’s Environmental Assessment Review and Approval process. Through the review process. The Policy is based on the mitigation hierarchy (Lynch-Stewart et al. A revised Operational Bulletin Respecting Alteration of Wetlands (OB) remains as an implementation guide to assist department inspectors and administrators in their review of applications to alter wetlands. or is contiguous to a watercourse. Projects that have the potential to affect any wetland that is two or more hectares in size. Final guidelines are being developed by the Department of Environment (Swanson. The Policy provides 16 principles for mitigation as well as specific guidelines for avoidance. Recent (2007) changes to the Act and its regulations supercede the Wetland Designation Policy of 2006. has been established to review wetland compensation projects that are required either by the provincial Wetland Conservation Policy or both the federal and provincial policies. and establishes wetland buffers for forestry and agricultural operations. 1996) and provides information on how compensation will be achieved. Prince Edward Island The 2003 Wetland Conservation Policy for Prince Edward Island sets a goal of no net loss of wetlands and wetland functions and applies to all wetlands regardless of ownership (Table 1).10 Wetlands Ecol Manage (2009) 17:3–14 The WCP is complemented by New Brunswick’s Coastal Areas Protection Policy that recognizes marshes as coastal features and restricts development in. In addition to the water approval. The Province addresses wetland management not only through permitting. and specific mitigation techniques during the construction phase’’. The 2005 New Brunswick Peat Mining Policy requires that an approved restoration plan be developed prior to a certificate of operation for peat harvesting. potential adverse effects to wetland functions are assessed. and the major non-governmental organization involved in wetland conservation in the province (Ducks Unlimited Canada). and then the mitigation hierarchy is applied (Cox and Grose 2000). or within a 30-m buffer around.). activity minimization. The permitting system explicitly excludes wetland alterations from environmental assessment. proponents are required to follow and adhere to the 2003 Department of Natural Resources Draft Mitigation Guidelines. The Act and its Regulations apply to all freshwater wetlands and to salt marshes (except those on federal lands and waters). pers. and 123 . consisting of provincial and federal staff. The restoration plan includes alternative post harvest land use and requires that a percentage of the land area be returned to a peat accumulating wetland. Projects that alter a wetland. a Water Approval is required for activities that result in an alteration to a wetland irrespective of the size of the alteration or wetland. comm. but states that these may be greater than 1:1 with most projects requiring compensation at 3:1 ratios.

regardless of whether that wetland lies on public. On these lands. although the PDDW does refer to aquatic and terrestrial habitat (Austen and Hanson 2007). the province does not have a no net loss goal and there is no compensation for wetland loss. and hydrological functions. incorporated or unincorporated land. the plan is included in the terms and conditions of that approval. water quality. The PDDW could be brought to bear on environmental assessments in the province through the Environmental Protection Act.Wetlands Ecol Manage (2009) 17:3–14 11 Below the mean high-water mark. administered by the Department of Environment and Conservation (Table 1). 2007). Restoration and enhancement are the preferred compensation mechanisms. If approved. The Environment Act and its regulations do not commit to no net loss of wetlands. The Wildlife Habitat and Watercourses Protection Regulations (under the Forests Act) administered by the Department of Natural Resources requires avoidance of impacts by regulating a minimum 20 metre limited forest harvest special management zone adjacent to wetlands with standing or flowing water. in particular peatlands. there is room for developments to occur. Compensation ratios have ranged from 1:1 to greater than 5:1 depending upon the type of wetland loss and circumstance. aesthetic functions. tidal ponds and coastal lagoons is claimed by the Province and alterations are administered using provisions of the Crown Lands Act and Beaches Act by the Department of Natural Resources. most wetland alterations in the province need not be registered for environmental assessment. through environmental assessment. In the interim however. and/or biological modification of wetlands. the list of allowed and permitted activities focuses on impairments to water quantity. may be acceptable in some circumstances. to be contrary to a policy of the province (Austen and Hanson 2007). The PDDW is based on the premise that. Thus. The PDDW lists activities not allowed in wetlands and those allowed with written permission. The FPWC remains widely applicable to the activities of northern programs administered by federal agencies. Northwest Territories and Nunavut. The Water Resources Act identifies that wetlands are ‘bodies of water’ and that the property. aesthetic or other natural functions and uses’’. Consequently. The development of protected areas strategies in the 123 . the OB instructs the Department of Environment and Labour to apply the mitigation hierarchy (see Austen and Hanson. ownership of mudflats. and the right to the use water. The Water Resources Act offers the Minister of the Environment and Conservation control over activities that may ‘‘impact upon the hydrology of [a] wetland or its recreational. Northern territories Over 40% of the Canadian land mass is encompassed by its three northern territories: Yukon. which declares that an undertaking will not proceed if it is found. No explicit mention is made of activities impacting recreational functions. The proponent is responsible for monitoring the compensation activities to ensure success and compliance with the terms and conditions. but creation. However. or securement coupled with another mechanism. At present. The PDDW does not specify what these might be. private. With an abundance of wetlands. Newfoundland and Labrador Wetland management in Newfoundland and Labrador is guided by the Policy Directive for Development in Wetlands (PDDW). however. the federal government retains many of the responsibilities for land-use planning and management although there has been a significant devolution of many activities to territorial and aboriginal governments. but the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act calls for a policy to prevent the net loss (area and function) of wetland by 2009. Although compensation ratios are not specified. the PDDW states that adverse impacts on the hydrological functions of wetlands require mitigation measures. due to the extensive nature of wetlands in the province. the Act’s identification of wetlands as bodies of water effectively permits the provincial government to assert property rights over water in any wetland. in a body of water in the province are for all purposes vested in the Crown. the proponent must develop a compensation plan that is approved by a review team including Natural Resources and Environment and Labour departmental staff. The Environmental Assessment Regulations of the Environmental Protection Act. identify only a few specific wetland alteration activities as ‘undertakings’.

Abraham et al. Land claim settlements have also become a key component in establishing wildlife and ecosystem conservation measures. whereby a large wetland restoration project developed after the fact can meet the compensation requirements for many permittees or projects. the Northwest Territories and Nunavut has been a leading component of territorial efforts to address biodiversity conservation including protection of wetland functions and values. observers have emphasized that it is both impossible to assess the effectiveness of the range of wetland policies and mitigation programs or to track no net loss objectives (Farnese and Belcher 2006. compensation (Lynch-Stewart et al. 1999). Atlantic Canada participants in a Delphi panel were of the view that such banks should be avoided as they have been ineffective in preventing net loss of wetlands in the United States (Austen and Hanson. 2007). The implementation of a standardized national mitigation hierarchy. Austen and Hanson unpubl. minimization. or preserving wetlands and other aquatic resources for purposes of providing compensatory mitigation in advance of authorized impacts to similar resources at another site. and the United States Environmental Protection Agency as restoring. The Canadian Wetland Inventory project. However to date there are no standardized protocols for monitoring the ecological success of compensation projects or systems in place to assemble this information in Canada. Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. and not requiring mitigation be applied in a prescriptive fashion (Farnese and Belcher 2006). and as a last resort. Austen and Hanson. as yet not nationally applied or funded (Mahoney and Hanson 2005). it is still unknown if jurisdictional objectives for no net loss of wetland habitats are being achieved and whether the mitigation tools that are being developed are actually effective (Abraham et al. as well as in-lieu fees whereby permittees contribute financial resources to such a project (Alberta Environment 2005. ELI 2004. Conclusions Across Canada. This review has noted that wetland mitigation banking is not commonly practiced by any jurisdiction in Canada. unpubl. The issues arising from permitteeresponsible mitigation banking in the United States. Some feel this results in a suite of inconsistent applications but others note it reflects the need for a flexible approach with mitigation applications responding case-by-case to circumstances (Kingsley. which have resulted in wetland creation being a cost of doing business with a net loss of wetland function (ELI 2002) seem to have been noted by those developing wetland mitigation and compensation initiatives in Canada.). territorial and federal governments in Canada’s North. Policies need to be nurtured to ensure 123 . it is clear that governments and their many private sector and non-government organization partners are dedicated to conserving wetlands while at the same time promoting the wise use of wetland resources and appropriate economic development. The importance of monitoring the success and failures of mitigation measures has been repeatedly stated (Cox and Grose 2000. many jurisdictions have adopted the mitigation hierarchy of avoidance. led by Environment Canada. as proposed by Cox and Grose (2000). pers. The approach offered by Cox and Grose (2000) has now been adopted in varying forms by the Governments of Canada and the provinces of Alberta. The FPWC has been criticized for its failure to have direct regulatory authority. Although Canada lacks a standardized national approach to mitigation of impacts on wetlands. unpubl. New Brunswick. there is significant uncertainty in the practice of mitigation of development impacts on wetlands across Canada. recognizing the evolving roles of the aboriginal. Landowners in some jurisdictions believe that any costs associated with the mitigation hierarchy should be paid for by government (Bruce 2006). and report on trends and thus effectively monitor the nation’s wetlands. We believe that there is support in Canada for consolidated wetland compensation projects. 2007).12 Wetlands Ecol Manage (2009) 17:3–14 Yukon. A fundamental issue remains Canada’s need to support a comprehensive national inventory and monitoring program of all of its wetlands.). comm. enhancing.). Ontario. remains in the technical development and pilot projects phase. Thus. has been applied by many federal project proponents in the context of Environment Canada regional interpretations. However. These costs are borne by proponents in most jurisdictions.). Manitoba. Without the ability to inventory. Mitigation banking has been defined by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

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