The Prairie Habitat Joint Venture (PHJV) is a voluntary partnership of the three prairie Provinces: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the Government of Canada, and non-government conservation organizations, brought together in the common cause of conserving wetland and grassland habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife.
Some 10,000 years ago, the last massive continental ice sheet retreated northward leaving behind a hummocky terrain of glacial till, scoured rock and countless chunks of ice. With time and the workings of plants, animals, water and ice, the freed land transformed. Rich prairie soil developed under verdant grass, millions of depressions filled with water and a 776,000 km2 area from Iowa to Alberta became the most important breeding grounds for waterbirds on the continent.
But after 150 years of human exploitation, and agricultural and industrial development, the land was rapidly losing its richness, resilience and ability to support native wildlife and vital wetland functions.
When the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) was signed in 1986, a key element in the planners’ vision was the hopeful emergence of something called “joint-venture partnerships” in the regions of North America most vital to waterfowl. Pooling skills, resources and the abilities of both government and the private sector, the Joint Ventures were to provide the regional stewardship necessary to fulﬁl collectively the annual-cycle needs of waterfowl.
Initially, six such areas were identified, including the vital breeding grounds of the mid-continent Prairie Pothole Region, 300,000 square miles of farmlands, grasslands and millions of small wetlands arching between Alberta and central Iowa.
No one had attempted to do conservation on this scale, or in this way before, and there was much to figure out in terms of strategy, roles, decision making, funding, coordination, reporting and myriad other details. And it was imperative that this all be done in an effective and cost-efficient manner. Now, more than 30 years along, the PHJV is a strong, mature and confident partnership of agencies, still pursuing the founding vision of the Joint Venture – “… healthy prairie, parkland and boreal landscapes that support sustainable bird populations and provide ecological and economic benefits for society”. Creation of the PHJV and other joint ventures is an enduring legacy of the 1986 North American Waterfowl Management Plan, and a primary reason for the Plan’s success.
While the core prairie waterfowl conservation work still predominates, the partnership now also provides administrative and planning support for the Western Boreal Forest Initiative, covering an area of more than 3 million km2 (47% of which is classified as waterfowl habitat) and second only to the prairie pothole region in its importance to breeding waterfowl. The JV has also supported planning, research and conservation actions for other wetland and grassland-dependent birds with incremental funds granted for that purpose.
The Prairie Habitat Joint Venture (PHJV) area includes two regions of Canada:
- The Prairie Parklands
- The Western Boreal Forest
Combined, these are the two most important breeding areas for waterfowl in North America. See PHJV Implementation Plan 2013-2020: Summary
Vision and Mission
PHJV Vision: Healthy prairie, parkland and boreal landscapes that support sustainable bird populations and provide ecological and economic benefits to society.
PHJV Mission: To provide leadership to achieve healthy and diverse waterfowl and other bird populations through conservation partnerships. These partnerships strive for sustainable and responsible management of the landscape taking into account social, economic and environmental factors.
Bird Populations – Duck populations are maintained at average levels recorded during 1955-2014, recognizing that abundance and species composition will fluctuate in response to variable pond and upland habitat conditions. Goals for other bird species are aligned with those specified in Bird Conservation Region Plans and Recovery Plans for Species at Risk.
Habitat – The Prairie Parkland Region and the Western Boreal Forest are capable of sustaining duck populations at levels recorded during 1955-2014, including populations in years of peak abundances, by maintaining the PHJV’s carrying capacity (wetlands support breeding pairs; reproductive and survival rates allow population growth). Identify and pursue opportunities to retain and restore key habitats for non-waterfowl species.
People – Programs and policies are delivered and advocated that favour both conservation and long-term sustainability of rural communities. Enhanced opportunities enable people to hunt and view waterfowl, while building support for wetland conservation among a wider community including the general public. Crop damage, over-abundant geese and other socioeconomic concerns created by waterfowl or other birds are addressed.