Saving Canada’s wetlands: A conservation group that’s working with pipeline companies?

Of all the ecosystems in the world, wetlands are one of the richest in biodiversity. In fact, they’re second only to rainforests. In Canada, we’re caretakers of a quarter of the world’s wetlands.

Sadly, every day we lose 80 acres of this national treasure due to development. Ducks Unlimited Canada is determined to stop that trend, and they often choose to work with the private sector, including the pipeline industry, to make that happen.

“We’ve always taken a collaborative approach to conservation. And we recognize the need to strike a balance with (infrastructure) development,” explained Ross Curtis, head of industry and government relations for the B.C. and boreal division of Ducks Unlimited Canada. “By working with the industries that are using the land, we find we can have the most direct benefit to wetlands and waterfowl.”

What are wetlands and why should you care?

Before we start talking about collaboration between Ducks Unlimited Canada and pipeline companies, we want to give you an idea of how important wetlands really are.

Did you know wetlands trap and store carbon, helping to reduce impact on the atmosphere?

Conservation through collaboration 

By working directly with conservation organizations, pipeline companies can better balance environmental protection with economic development.

Curtis explained that his organization often reviews pipeline routes for the industry’s leading companies so they can “avoid, minimize and mitigate their impact on wetlands.”

“They recognize that social license must be earned by showing due diligence. We think the leaders in the industry can do a lot to prove that environmental protection is good for business,” Curtis said.

We think the leaders in the industry can do a lot to prove that environmental protection is good for business.

What can be gained by working together?

By working with conservation groups, pipeline companies get access to a wealth of information that can help them better protect the environment. For example, Ducks Unlimited Canada has GIS maps, available to industry, that classify wetlands and outline conservation tools for specific areas.

And by working with pipeline companies, conservation groups can see real improvement in the way Canada develops its infrastructure. And, when companies see the value in protecting wetlands, they may decide to help fund important conservation projects.

“We’ve received generous support for our wetland restoration projects and education programs (from pipeline companies),” explained Curtis.

Economic development and environmental protection: Is there a balance? 

We live in a world working to balance population growth and quality of life with environmental protection. So, now more than ever, collaboration is needed to find solutions that allow us to have both prosperity and sustainability.

Curtis believes we can find that balance through sustainable land use. He would encourage pipeline companies to work with conservation organizations, like Ducks Unlimited Canada, to find ways to develop and share information and improve best practices.

Conserving Canada’s immense natural resources will keep “our ecosystems and our economy sustainable for years to come,” he explained.

“Thriving economies and thriving ecosystems go hand-in-hand,” he stated.

Want to learn more about how the pipeline industry is working to balance development and environmental protection? Read other stories in our “Pipelines exposed” blog series.

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 117,000 kilometres of pipelines in Canada. In 2014, these energy highways moved approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Our members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America.