Ontario Making Historic Investments in Wetlands Restoration
Updated: Jul 7
KING-VAUGHAN — The Ontario government is investing up to $6.9 million in approximately 100 local conservation projects to restore and enhance wetlands across the province. This funding will help 14 conservation partners restore more than 2,400 acres of wetlands in Ontario, which combined is larger than Presqu’ile Provincial Park, near Brighton. The projects will improve water quality, help prevent flooding and build climate change resiliency.
"I am proud of our government's commitment to restoring wetlands, as this new funding represents one of the largest investments in wetland restoration in Ontario’s history, said Stephen Lecce, MPP for King-Vaughan. “Our plan will restore more than 2,400 acres of wetlands in the province, improving water quality, helping prevent flooding and building climate change resiliency."
“We’re very proud of these historic investments and to be working with conservation organizations and municipalities to restore and enhance the health of wetlands in Ontario,” said David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “We will continue to support more wetlands projects to ensure vital ecosystems in the province are protected, now and in the future.”
The Wetlands Conservation Partner Program represents one of the largest investments in wetland restoration in Ontario’s history. The five-year, $30-million program supports a wide range of projects, restoring and enhancing large-scale wetlands, smaller wetlands on marginal agricultural lands, and wetlands in more urban areas as part of municipal stormwater management.
In this third year of the program, the province is working in partnership with a number of Ontario-based conservation organizations and municipalities, including the program’s first partner Ducks Unlimited Canada, which is celebrating 85 years of conservation leadership.
The wetland restoration and enhancement projects include:
Another 40 wetland restoration projects, covering approximately 838 acres, will be delivered by Ducks Unlimited Canada in southern Ontario. All will improve water quality, provide habitat for at-risk species and increase climate change resiliency in communities across the province.
13 wetlands restoration and enhancement projects are being implemented by the Nature Conservancy of Canada across southern Ontario, covering approximately 153 acres of wetlands. Projects include managing invasive species, expanding and restoring wetlands to mitigate flooding and planting native species to enhance biodiversity. Projects support coastal wetlands along Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, Turkey Point in Lake Erie and Eastern Lake Ontario.
In the Lake Ontario watershed, three wetland enhancement projects led by the Royal Botanical Gardens, including Rock Chapel and two coastal wetlands, one in Cootes Paradise and the second in Grindstone Marsh, will enhance wetland habitats and connectivity, help manage invasive species and improve resiliency impacts such as extreme water levels in the lake.
Ontario will also support new projects with the remaining funding under the Wetlands Conservation Partner Program with a new call for applications this year. The government will begin accepting applications starting August 8, 2023.
We encourage municipalities, conservation organizations and Indigenous communities to apply for the remaining funding under the program from August 8 to September 12, 2023.
Since the program was launched in 2020, $20 million has been invested in over 330 wetland projects, restoring and enhancing approximately 7,200 acres of wetlands across the province. That’s about eight times the size of the Toronto Islands.
In the first two years of the program, an estimated $6 million of damage due to flooding has been avoided and over 170 green jobs were created in Ontario’s rural and near-urban communities to undertake restoration work.
Ducks Unlimited Canada’s story map features the wetland projects supported by the organization through the Wetlands Conservation Partner Program.
Since 1938, Ducks Unlimited Canada has completed more than 11,890 projects and conserved, restored and positively influenced more than 163.5 million acres of habitat.
The Ontario government recently announced an additional $14 million investment in the Greenlands Conservation Partnership. The conservation program helps partner organizations, such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Ontario Land Trust Alliance, to secure, restore and manage new protected wetlands, grasslands and forests areas and increase the number of conserved natural spaces for Ontarians to enjoy.
"Wetlands are essential resources that improve water quality, provide habitat for at-risk species and increase climate change resiliency. Ducks Unlimited Canada believes that ongoing investments and strong partnerships are critical to restoring and enhancing these valuable ecosystems. We look forward to building on the success of the Wetlands Conservation Partner Program and adding another 40 projects to the 105 already delivered by Ducks Unlimited Canada during the first two years of the program. With the support of the Province of Ontario and our many conservation partners and landowners, we can contribute to the health, sustainability and prosperity of communities throughout southern Ontario."
- Michael Nadler CEO, Ducks Unlimited Canada
"The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is grateful for the continued support through Ontario’s Wetlands Conservation Partner Program. This investment will support 13 habitat restoration and enhancement projects aimed at removing harmful invasive species, connecting fragmented wetlands, and creating more wetland habitat across Ontario. When we restore nature, we restore the benefits that nature provides to wildlife and people. Habitat restoration is our opportunity to reverse the trend of biodiversity decline and conserve nature’s many benefits including water quality, carbon storage and flood mitigation."
- Mark Stabb Program Director for Central Ontario East, Nature Conservancy of Canada
"Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) greatly appreciates the financial support from the Province of Ontario to assist with advancing the collaborative restoration of Cootes Paradise river mouth coastal marsh, as well as assisting with the planning for the re-establishment of a historically lost wetland on our Niagara Escarpment area properties."
- Tys Theijsmeijer Senior Director of Ecoglogical Stewardship, Policy and Programs, Royal Botanical Gardens
"Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) is a proud partner in this collaborative effort to restore wetland habitats in Ontario. Ontario’s Wetlands Conservation Partner Program has provided funds for our work to restore wetlands in areas where they have been lost. When we restore wetlands, we create habitats for native plants and animals to thrive, help filter air and water, mitigate flooding in downstream areas, and provide many other long-lasting benefits for the environment and our communities."
- John MacKenzie Chief Executive Officer, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
"We, at the Township of Georgian Bay, thank and commend Minister David Piccini, the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks, and the Ontario government for the historic $6.9 million investment in wetland restoration and protection. This funding is of paramount importance for the vital ecosystems in Georgian Bay's wetlands, which serve as critical habitats and climate shields. We are eager to collaborate with our invaluable partners, Moose Deer Point First Nation and the Georgian Bay Preservation Alliance, in leveraging this funding to fortify our region's environmental heart. Together, we can ensure the preservation of our shared natural heritage for future generations."
- Peter Koetsier Mayor, Township of Georgian Bay