Manitoba introduces new wetlands protection

Robert Stewart and Harold Kantrud, U.S. government scientists working at the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Centre in Jamestown, North Dakota, created a system for classifying wetlands in the 1970s. The system groups wetlands into seven categories. The first five are:

Manitoba is moving forward with new rules for wetlands drainage, based on a principle of no net loss.

The province introduced legislation to protect wetlands in late November as part of broader changes to surface water management in Manitoba.

Landowners wanting to drain a wetland would have to prove that the action provides “broad social and economic benefits.”

Landowners who drain a wetland will also have to compensate the province or mitigate the loss of the wetlands. They could pay for the construction of a similar wetland or restore a wetland on their own property.

Scott Stephens, Ducks Unlimited Canada’s director of regional operations for the Prairies, said the no net loss policy doesn’t apply to all classifications of wetlands.

The regulations are expected to follow a wetland classification system known as Stewart & Kantrud, which was developed in the Dakotas.

The new Manitoba rules are for Class 3, 4 and 5 wetlands, which are seasonal, semi-permanent and permanent.

Class 1 and 2 wetlands are exempt.

“Producers would be able to deal with those without going through this process,” he said.

“They (farmers) wouldn’t typically define them as a wetland. It only holds water for a little bit (of the year).”

Wetlands classification

  • Class I: Ephemeral wetlands typically have free surface water for only a short period of time after snow melt or storms in early spring.
  • Class II: Temporary wetlands are periodically covered by standing or slow moving water. They typically have open water for only a few weeks after snow melt or several days after heavy storms. Water is retained long enough to establish wetland or aquatic processes.
  • Class III: Seasonal ponds are characterized by shallow marsh vegetation, which generally occurs in the deepest zone. They are usually dry by midsummer.
  • Class IV: Semi-permanent ponds and lakes are characterized by marsh vegetation, which dominates the central zone of the wetland, as well as coarse emergent plants and submerged cattails, bulrushes and pond weeds. These wetlands frequently maintain surface water throughout the growing season.
  • Class V: Permanent ponds and lakes have open water in the central zone, which is generally devoid of vegetation. Plants in these wetlands include cattails, red swamp fire and spiral ditchgrass. – Source:


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