Feds expand protection for Delta wetlands

The Alaksen Ramsar Site now includes the 3,000 hectares of Burns Bog

More than 20

The federal government has joined together more than 20,000 hectares of wetlands into the newly named Fraser River Delta Ramsar Site, which will include all 3,000 hectares of Burns Bog.

The site is now formed by Burns Bog, Sturgeon Bank, South Arm Marshes, Boundary Bay, Serpentine, and the former 586-hectare Alaksen Ramsar Site.

“It’s been a long wait, but worth it,” said Eliza Olson, president of the Burns Bog Conservation Society (BBCS). Some members of that group have been trying to get Burns Bog into the Ramsar Site since 1995.

The original proposal to declare Burns Bog a Ramsar Site was brought forward by Rob Stoneman of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, at the International Peat Society’s Congress 17 years ago.

“The news about the Fraser River Delta is a great step in the right direction for Canada, and all the wetlands around the world,” said Dr. David James Bellamy, an honourary chair of the BBCS and keynote speaker at that Congress.

Although the Burns Bog is now protected under the intergovernmental treaty, the BBSC is concerned it could still be threatened by a proposed 89-acre (36 hectares) development at Hwys 91 and 72nd Ave.

“As wonderful as the Ramsar designation is, it won’t stop the destruction of Burns Bog unless the federal government honours its commitments to the Ramsar Convention,” said Olson, adding the group has a petition with over 2,000 signatures opposing the development.

Burns Bog Environmental Conservation Area, created in 2004, is a collective covenant between four levels of government. The bog is the southernmost and largest raised peat bog on the west coast of North America.

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, created in 1971 in Ramsar, Iran, is an intergovernmental treaty dedicated to the “wise use” of wetlands of international importance.

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