Two of the major tasks our Wetlands Workforce crews are working on this year are the Wetlands Ecosystem Services Protocol (WESP) and Predictive Mapping.

The Workforce is developing a unified approach with Indigenous communities in B.C. as part of the development of WESP and data collection in support of a predictive wetland layer for the province.

What is WESP?

WESP is a standardized method for rapidly assessing important natural functions of wetlands. It utilizes over 60 field questions and over 40 office/GIS questions as input to determine 17 functions and attributes of a wetland complex relative to other wetlands in the region. Through WESP, we can rapidly assess the functions of the ecosystem and other attributes.

These functions and attributes include:

  • Hydrologic (water storage and delay, soil stabilization, sediment retention, nutrient removal and retention);
  • Water Purification (soil stabilization, sediment retention, nutrient removal and retention);
  • Aquatic Life Support (aquatic primary productivity, nutrient export, stream flow and temperature support);
  • Climate Support (carbon accretion capacity, carbon stock);
  • Habitat (fish habitat, waterbird habitat, other wetland bird habitat, keystone mammal habitat, pollinator habitat, native plant habitat); and
  • Social and Cultural (fire resistance, cultural values).

The WESP model is a standardized method for assessing the function and value of the services provided by wetlands. It was originally developed by Paul Adamus who has developed tools for wetland ecosystem service evaluation across North America. Versions of the WESP model are currently being used within Atlantic Canada, Alberta, Alaska, and the State of Oregon.

Since 2018, nine First Nation communities and the Province have developed a version of WESP in the Skeena – East Region as part of the Environmental Sustainability Initiative. In this process, participating nations in the region identified wetlands as a key value on the landscape, and expressed an interest to improve management tools for co-management. Through the Wetlands Workforce Initiative we are aiming to improve wetland management and decision-making tools within other regions of the Province with a strong emphasis on collaborating with First Nations.

How are we completing this work?

The project team has randomly selected sites for data collection in four eco-provinces (Georgia Depression, Southern Interior Mountains, Taiga Plans, and Boreal Plains). Sites identified are intended to provide a representative sampling of wetlands within the eco-province. The BCWF, in collaboration with our seven work-pod partner organizations, will be visiting these sites between June and September 2021. Our crews will gather field-based information during the summer field season. The data will be reviewed and calibrated with the model between October and December 2021.

Why is this work important?

Currently land managers and decision makers have no standardized tools in BC to measure the relative functional attributes of wetlands which leads to discrepancies and subjectivity in decisions related to protection and mitigation measures. Functional assessment tools are becoming standards practice in many other jurisdictions in North America.

Although the model itself is not a regulatory tool, it can support individuals involved in decision making processes. It can also be utilized as a supporting tool should BC develop stronger regulations around wetland conservation.

Lac du Bois Conservation Area in Kamloops, B.C.

What is Predictive Mapping?

The Predictive Mapping dataset is a resource managed by Environment Canada. It spatially represents the current locations of wetlands while using available LIDAR data and satellite imagery to predict the spatial extent and types of wetlands on the land base.

The Wetlands Workforce is looking to collect data to improve an existing predictive wetland layer managed by Environment Canada. The data collected will be reviewed by the project team, analyzed by an ecological consultant and shared with Environment and Climate Change Canada and other external end users.

How are we completing this work?

Our field crews will collect GPS points, 360 photos, and ecosystem metrics (dominant vegetation, site type, elevation) while visiting the selected WESP wetland sites.

Why is this work important?

The field data collected will provide ground-based information to help calibrate a Predictive Wetland Layer. This information has the potential to improve the conservation of wetlands by better understanding their distribution on the landscape and support land managers to better care for them.

1 Comment

  1. it’s good to collect data of the Wetlands, the industry is forever changing environmental changes; FNs were nomadic, the old hunting grounds are no longer the same; gravesites are uprooted; younger generation need to see the documented areas

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