Canada vastly extends Vancouver wetlands

Canada vastly extends Vancouver wetlands

22 September 2012

The government of Canada has vastly extended the Alaksen Ramsar Site, first designated in 1982, from 586 hectares to 20,682. The resulting Ramsar Site, now renamed "Fraser River Delta", is formed by six components (Burns Bog, Sturgeon Bank, South Arm Marshes, Boundary Bay, Serpentine, and the former 'Alaksen' Ramsar Site), all in the Metro Vancouver Region and part of the the most important river delta/estuary for fish and birds on the west coast of Canada.

As described by Ramsar's Nury Furlan from the Ramsar Information Sheets, the complex provides an internationally critical migratory stopover area for the Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri), one of the most common shorebirds in the western hemisphere. It provides feeding and roosting sites to about 250,000 migrating and wintering waterfowl and 1 million shorebirds, regularly supporting the threshold of 1% of a population of a species or subspecies of waterbird. A number of Provincially- and Federally-listed fish species of concern can be found within the estuarine habitats, including Acipenser transmontanus, Acipenser medirostris, and Thaleichthys pacificus.

The complexity of ecosystems found in the site, such as estuarine marsh, mudflats, floodplains, sloughs and river channels are all critical feeding and rearing areas for anadromous salmon during their transition between river and marine stages of their life cycle. Some of the subsites are used for low-impact recreation, but the site is mostly reserved for wildlife habitat conservation.

Parts of the site are presently a National Wildlife Area, Important Bird Area, Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network site, and Wildlife Management Areas.