WETLAND BOUNDARIES EXPANDED TO PROTECT RARE MANITOBA SPECIES: MACKINTOSH
– – – Area for Brokenhead's Ecological Reserve more than Doubled to 1,240 Hectares
The Manitoba government is more than doubling the amount of Crown land protected by the Brokenhead Wetland Ecological Reserve to 1,240 from 563 hectares, providing broader protection for the unique orchid-rich wetland area, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh said today.
“We are continuing to work with the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation and other stakeholders to expand this valuable ecological area that sustains representatives of more than 70 per cent of Manitoba’s orchid species along with many other rare plants,” said Mackintosh. “Over the past seven years, the ecological reserve has been protecting and nurturing a precious piece of Manitoba’s natural heritage and our goal is to continue to do this.”
The Brokenhead Wetland Ecological Reserve, located along PTH 59 northeast of the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation reserve, is one of 22 protected ecological reserves across the province. The area is a rare type of wetland in North America, which is dominated by a calcareous fen. It features 23 species of provincially rare and uncommon plants, eight species of insect-eating (carnivorous) plants and 28 of Manitoba’s 36 native orchid species including the rare ram’s head lady’s-slipper (Cypripedium arietinum).
“The Brokenhead wetlands initiative is an ongoing example of how co-operation between First Nations, the government of Manitoba and local stakeholders can help protect precious natural areas and support the sacred relationship we have with the land,” said Brokenhead Ojibway Nation Chief Jim Bear. “By respecting the natural habitat of the many species of rare orchids and other plants that are indigenous to this area, we preserve them for future generations.”
Protected areas may be used for research, education and nature study, but are free from intensive recreational development. Access to the Brokenhead reserve by individual ecotourists remains limited to walking tours.
Areas designated as ecological reserves benefit Manitoba’s network of protected areas by prohibiting commercial logging, mining, hydroelectric and oil and gas development. However, Mackintosh noted First Nations and Aboriginal people are the traditional stewards of this land and will continue to exercise their treaty and traditional rights that include hunting, trapping and medicinal plant collecting.
Construction of the Brokenhead Wetland Interpretive Trail, announced Oct. 24, 2011, will begin this fall and is scheduled for completion in 2014. The $1-million trail and boardwalks will run adjacent to the ecological reserve and allow access for viewing and research while protecting the ecological integrity of the wetlands area.
Beginning with the province’s creation of the first ecological reserve in 1976 and Manitoba’s Protected Areas Initiative in 1990, 6.7 million ha of land have been protected.
Manitoba has also developed a green plan called TomorrowNow, which sets out an eight-year strategic action plan for mobilizing Manitobans to work together to protect the environment, while ensuring a prosperous and environmentally conscious economy. The action plan includes expanding and creating new protected areas in the province.