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Stormwater management ponds may not provide a solution to exhausting wetlands

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Relying on stormwater management ponds (SWM) to restore the depleting wetlands is unsustainable and lacks the critical ecosystem services essential for biodiversity, a new study finds.

With continued wetland losses projected for the foreseeable future and an emphasis on the underestimation of provincial wetland loss, the study captures the contributions of SWM ponds in a changing network of water bodies and the impacts of land use and land cover in this change.

Waterloo researchers led by Waverley Birch examined wetland loss, SWM pond creation and land use trends in seven southern Ontario municipalities in Canada’s most populous ecozones from 2002 to 2010 using a geographic information system. .

“Wetland loss is contributing to the loss of ecosystem services in Ontario, with the potential for natural disasters such as drought and flooding becoming more common in urban areas,” Birch said.

For the years examined, the findings show that the total number of SWM ponds created was 1.6 times greater than the number of wetlands lost for all municipalities combined and that a total of 0.13 percent of the wetland area was lost per year.

“This is concerning because of the low proportion of wetlands left in these areas and the fact that the average SWM pond was smaller than the average wetland lost, which poses a major environmental challenge,” Birch said.

The researchers state that wetland losses will continue with trends toward replacement by SWM ponds. They found that losses are concentrated in wetlands that are generally not protected by provincial policy because of their small size.

“We recommend strengthening the protection of wetlands of all sizes, and in turn protecting communities by preserving the important ecosystem services vital to biodiversity and to human health and well-being that wetlands provide,” said Birch.

The study, authored by Waterloo’s Birch, Michael Drescher, Jeremy Pittman and Rebecca Rooney, was recently published in the Environmental Management Magazine.

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More information:
Waverley S. Birch et al, Trends and Predictors of Wetland Conversion in Urbanizing Environments, Environmental Management Magazine (2022). DOI: 10.116/j.jenvman.2022.114723

Provided by the University of Waterloo

Quote: Stormwater management ponds may not provide a solution to depleting wetlands (2022, Aug. 11) retrieved Aug. 11, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-stormwater-ponds-solution-depleting-wetlands.html

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