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Manitoba Government Preserving Unique Biodiversity Through New Provincially Significant Peatlands Designations

Press Release

January 20, 2023

First-Ever Designations of Provincially Significant Peatlands: Nesbitt

The Manitoba government is designating Moswa Meadows and Fish Lake Fen as provincially significant peatlands to ensure the biodiversity of the two areas is preserved, Natural Resources and Northern Development Minister Greg Nesbitt announced today.

“Manitoba is home to millions of hectares of peatlands – complex, interconnected wetland ecosystems that efficiently store carbon – that our government manages using a measured approach that balances environmental and social benefits with community and rural economic opportunities,” said Nesbitt. “I am proud to announce the inaugural designation of provincially significant peatlands under the Peatlands Stewardship Act.”

Specified development activities, including mining, forestry, agriculture and peat harvesting, are now prohibited across the nearly 28,000 hectares that make up Moswa Meadows and Fish Lake Fen to ensure the areas can continue to provide long-term beneficial goods and services including carbon sequestration and storage, water filtration, and flood mitigation.

The minister noted Moswa Meadows was designated as a provincially significant peatland because it provides an ideal habitat for recovering moose populations in western Manitoba. Located within the traditional territory of Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation and used for hunting, trapping and gathering plants, the area will now have protected status while continuing to be available for traditional Indigenous use.

“I am happy that our traditional land will be protected from development for the animals and the plants. The land can’t speak for itself, so we have to speak for it,” said Chief Elwood Zastre, Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation.

Fish Lake Fen was designated as a provincially significant peatland because it is a calcareous fen characterized by calcium-rich water and a fluctuating water table. This type of peatland is exceedingly rare in North America, added Nesbitt.

“Ducks Unlimited Canada congratulates the Manitoba government on the designation of Moswa Meadows and Fish Lake Fen as provincially significant peatlands – the first two in the province,” said Kevin Smith, national manager, boreal programs, Ducks Unlimited Canada. “This designation ensures these peatland areas are protected and is a great step forward in the ongoing efforts to protect and conserve these valuable landscapes. Conservation of peatlands is so critical toward our global efforts to mitigate climate impacts, to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, and to retain valuable ecosystem services. It has been a pleasure to work with the Manitoba government from idea all the way through to designation and we look forward to supporting the designation and maintenance of more valuable Manitoba landscapes.”

“Manitoba’s horticultural peat producers promote the responsible management of peatlands by providing leadership in social, environmental, and economic areas and we applaud the Manitoba government for their conservation initiatives,” said Asha Hingorani, president, Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association. “The peat industry believes that there is a need to preserve unique ecosystems when there are species at risk such as identified in the Moswa Meadows and the Fish Lake Fen regions. Conservation goes hand in hand with responsible resource development and we’ll continue to work with the government to ensure that appropriate areas of peatlands suitable for harvesting be, in consultation with Indigenous communities, industry and government, set aside for the long-term generational needs of the horticultural peat industry.”

The minister noted the designations also contribute to biodiversity conservation commitments in the Made-in-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan and the Manitoba government’s new Water Management Strategy, which was unveiled in November 2022.

For more information about peatlands visit https://gov.mb.ca/nrnd/forest/land-management/peatlands/index.html.

To learn more about the Water Management Strategy, visit: https://manitoba.ca/sd/water/.

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Backgrounder

For more information:

  • Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.
  • Media requests for general information, contact Communications and Engagement: [email protected]
  • Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-451-7109.

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