To the Editor,
Wetlands enrich our lives. They are places where we can observe and learn about a diversity of plants and animals while enjoying a quiet, natural environment. But wetlands accomplish much, much more.
They are crucial in preventing climate change through carbon storage which takes place in vegetation, sediment and dead plants. Complementing our efforts to reduce the use of fossil fuels, removal of carbon from the atmosphere is essential to avoid a climate crisis. Wetlands are also instrumental in mitigating the impacts of climate change by controlling flooding and recharging groundwater.
It is critical that our natural wetlands be protected and preserved. When wetlands are drained or developed, the result is the releasing of carbon into the atmosphere. Mature wetlands develop over thousands of years and newly constructed ones will not reach the same carbon sequestering capacity or biodiversity within our lifetimes.
Unfortunately, in Ontario, the government has been changing laws to circumvent protections afforded to farmlands, wetlands and natural features outlined in the provincial policy statement. Within the Budget Bill 229, Schedule 6 limits the ability of conservation authorities to protect life, property and the environment. Schedule 3, of Bill 257 tabled by the Infrastructure Minister Laurie Scott allows ministerial zoning orders to override key provisions of the Planning Act, removing protections from environmentally sensitive lands. These are regressive, short-sighted decisions which threaten the health and safety of our communities and our economic future. The public interest is sacrificed for the benefit of private developers.
It is time to chart a course to a green recovery with climate change at top of mind. Natural climate solutions such as protecting our wetlands would reduce our carbon footprint, ensuring a better future for ourselves and for generations to come.