Alberta Water Council finalizes recommendations for a New Wetlands Policy and Implementation Plan



    EDMONTON, Sept. 16 /CNW/ - The Alberta Water Council submitted one of
Canada's most comprehensive wetland policy and implementation recommendations
to the Government of Alberta today. These recommendations will help the
Government of Alberta develop and finalize a provincial wetlands policy. The
Council's recommendations focus on protecting Alberta's wetlands by managing
impacts; setting objectives; encouraging stewardship; and building knowledge
and capacity.

    In 2005, the Alberta Water Council formed the Wetland Policy Project
Team, composed of government, industry and environmental representatives. The
team was tasked with developing a provincial wetland policy and implementation
plan that the Council could recommend to the Government of Alberta. "It is
critical to make certain that wetlands, like other natural resources, are
sustained for future generations with initiatives that support the Water for
Life strategy," says Gord Edwards, Executive Director of the Alberta Water
Council.

    Alberta Water Council Recommendations for a New Wetland Policy and
Alberta Water Council Recommendations for a Wetland Policy Implementation Plan
have been submitted to the Minister of Environment for his consideration. The
Council expects it will take the Minister some time to complete a thorough
review and respond.

    "I look forward to reviewing the wetland policy and implementation
recommendations provided by the Alberta Water Council. I am confident that the
time invested by participating sectors has resulted in well-thought out,
balanced options on managing wetlands," says Rob Renner, Minister of
Environment. He added that while the group did not reach consensus on all of
the recommendations, he was certain that the implementation phase would
alleviate concerns from any particular sector.

    David Pryce, Vice President, Operations, Canadian Association of
Petroleum Producers comments, "This policy recommendation reflects a
significant collaborative effort to provide guidance on how wetlands should be
valued and managed in concert with other Provincial policy objectives. There
are many areas of agreement amongst the stakeholders and industry supports the
establishment of definitive policy to guide planning and decision-making. We
believe this policy should enable a flexible and balanced approach to
decision-making by the government. Work remains on how that policy will strike
an appropriate balance and on defining appropriate implementation tools."

    Dr. Jonathan Thompson of Ducks Unlimited Canada and chair of the project
team adds, "The work undertaken by the Alberta Water Council Wetland Policy
Project Team over the past three years has been substantial. The discussion
and successful resolution of many complex issues related to wetlands policy
and implementation was commendable, especially considering the numerous
stakeholder perspectives and priorities. The Council's recommendations provide
the strategic direction and tools to enable the Government of Alberta and
other land managers to make wise choices about our wetlands now and into the
future."

    The policy and implementation plans and sector responses are available at
www.AWChome.ca

    
    Established in 2004, the Alberta Water Council is a multi-stakeholder
    partnership with 24 members from governments, industry, and non-
    government organizations. Its primary task is to monitor and steward
    implementation of Alberta's Water for Life strategy and to champion
    achievement of the strategy's three outcomes of a safe, secure drinking
    water supply, healthy aquatic ecosystems and reliable, quality water
    supplies for a sustainable economy.

    For further information: Gord Edwards, Executive Director, Alberta Water
Council at (780) 644-7380; Shaun Peters, Communications Manager, Alberta Water
Council at (780) 644-7377


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    Backgrounder
    

    Albertans indicated during the wetland consultation process (2006-07)
that the indefinite loss of provincial wetlands is no longer acceptable.

    The scale of wetland loss across the province is only partially
understood, but it is estimated to be significant, with more than 64 percent
of wetlands lost to date in the "White Area" (settled land) and current annual
loss estimated at between 0.3 percent and 0.5 percent of remaining wetland
area. The scale of wetland loss or impacts in the "Green Area" (public land)
is unknown, but has increased due to development.

    The need for a new provincial wetland policy aimed at protecting,
sustaining and restoring Alberta's wetlands was identified in the Provincial
Government's Water for Life strategy. In 2005, the Alberta Water Council
formed the Wetland Policy Project Team, composed of government, industry and
environmental representatives. The team was tasked with developing a
provincial wetland policy and implementation plan that the Council could
recommend to the Government of Alberta.

    Three years of collaboration and a significant investment of time,
effort, and expertise from the Wetland Policy Project Team and participating
sectors has resulted in the production of two key documents: Alberta Water
Council Recommendations for a New Alberta Wetland Policy and Alberta Water
Council Recommendations for a New Alberta Wetland Policy Implementation Plan.

    These documents have been submitted to the Minister of Environment for
his consideration. The Council expects it will take the Minister some time to
complete a thorough review and respond.

    Alberta Water Council Recommendations for a New Wetland Policy and
Alberta Water Council Recommendations for a Wetland Policy Implementation
Plan, and sector responses are available at www.AWChome.ca





For further information:

For further information: Gord Edwards, Executive Director, Alberta Water
Council at (780) 644-7380; Shaun Peters, Communications Manager, Alberta Water
Council at (780) 644-7377

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Alberta Water Council

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