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Canada’s Environment Minister Acknowledges the 40th Anniversary of the Signing of the Ramsar Convention

OTTAWA, Ont. -- February 2, 2011 -- The Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of the Environment, issued the following statement on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance on World Wetlands Day:

“For years World Wetlands Day has marked the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance on February 2, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar. On this occasion, I would like to acknowledge the many achievements and contributions of our partners to further the conservation of wetlands and the living species who depend on them.

“Approximately 16 per cent of Canada’s land area is covered by freshwater wetlands, making the country steward to about a quarter of the world’s remaining wetlands. Wetlands are the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth. In Canada’s boreal forest, they filter millions of litres of water on a daily basis and retain more fresh water than any other place in the world. 

“Across Canada, 37 sites covering an area of almost 131,000 km2 have been designated as Wetlands of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention. Sites in Canada range from the Mer Bleue wetland located just 10 km southeast of Parliament Hill, a rare occurrence of northern peatland in southern Ontario, to the Queen Maud Gulf site in the Northwest Territories - Canada’s largest Ramsar site at 6,278,200 hectares. Since the designation of Canada’s first Ramsar site in 1981 at Cap Tourmente, Quebec to the 2005 designation of the Columbia River Wetlands in British Columbia, Canadian partners continue to actively work on expanding the network.

“The Government of Canada plays a key role in the conservation of wetlands, which help to continue giving the social, environmental and economic benefits Canadians enjoy today and in the future. Under the auspices of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Environment Canada and its partners have conserved over seven million acres of wetlands and associated upland for the benefit of waterfowl and other wetland-dependant migratory birds and wildlife. Environment Canada works with its valuable conservation partners to protect wetlands through other programs such as the Natural Areas Conservation Program and the Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk. Many important wetland areas are conserved under Environment Canada’s Protected Areas Network which includes 146 Migratory Bird Sanctuaries and National Wildlife Areas.  

“With 2011 designated as the International Year of Forests by the United Nations General Assembly, I invite all Canadians to take action to protect our wetlands and forests. A robust boreal forest ecosystem is key to maintaining the health of our planet and its biodiversity now and for future generations.”

For more information on Environment Canada’s programs and on the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, please visit and

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