Sackville receives prestigious wetlands designation

Town one of 25 cities to receive Wetland City accreditation by Ramsar

Sackville recently received accreditation as a Wetland City by the Ramsar Convention, an international framework on the conservation and use of wetlands. The Convention on Wetlands was adopted in Ramsar, Iran in 1971, with the city lending its name to the distinction given to wetland sites deemed to have international importance. The Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty focused on the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. According to the Ramsar website, the organization designates sites across the world in “recognition of their exceptional efforts to safeguard urban wetlands for people and nature.”

Sites that receive Ramsar accreditation are expected to maintain the ecological character of the site and preserve its functions and values for future generations. Canada has 37 Ramsar sites covering over 13 million hectares in total. These sites include Point Pelee in southern Ontario and the Fraser River Delta in British Columbia, with each location holding “international significance in terms of ecology, botany, zoology, limnology or hydrology,” according to the Ramsar designation criteria.

Sackville is unique amongst Ramsar sites in Canada as it is the first town in North America to receive the Wetland City Accreditation from Ramsar. The Wetland City Accreditation is different from the typical Ramsar distinction in that it recognizes the importance of urban wetlands and highlights the positive relationship between cities and these important ecosystems. This accreditation scheme was introduced in 2015 to encourage cities to responsibly restore, manage, and preserve urban wetland ecosystems. In 2020, Sackville submitted an application for consideration and their acceptance, along with 24 other cities, was announced in May of this year.

Other accredited cities across the world include Kigali, Rwanda, Valencia, Spain, and Cape Town, South Africa. The Wetland City Accreditation scheme aims to promote the conservation and wise use of urban wetlands, with sustainable socio-economic benefits for the local community. The accreditation also increases public awareness of wetlands and fosters participation in local decision-making and municipal planning. Any Ramsar designation requires site management, planning, and periodic evaluation and review.

While Waterfowl Park is at the centre of Sackville’s designation, there are also a number of other habitats like Silver Lake that are included in Sackville’s wetland ecosystem. Urban wetlands are often damaged by human activities, causing a loss of habitat, pollution, and degradation. However, as Sackville demonstrates, when managed sustainably, urban wetlands are an asset to a community. They preserve biodiversity and prevent floods in addition to the benefits for residents including recreation and well-being. With this designation, Sackville is recognized for its commitment to wetland conservation and joins a select group of cities across the globe receiving this prestigious honour in 2022.

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