When the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) was launched in 1986, its visionaries recognized that the Canadian Prairie Parkland Region would be crucial to its success. Shortly thereafter, the Prairie Habitat Joint Venture (PHJV) began implementing habitat programs across the Region — in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba — signalling the clear intent to retain, restore and manage the natural wetland and upland habitats needed to sustain healthy waterfowl populations. Strong partnerships among conservation agencies and other organizations and individuals emerged, and remain today.
The success of NAWMP also relies on functional ecosystems outside of the Prairie Parkland Region. To the immediate north, Canada’s Western Boreal Forest (WBF) is a vast, wetland-rich area with duck numbers surpassed only by the Prairie Parkland Region. The WBF also is critical to populations of prairie ducks and many other wetland- associated birds, which move between these biomes during the Prairie Parkland Region’s regular wet-dry cycles. Over the past decade, the PHJV recognized increasing habitat threats to the WBF and responded by expanding the partnership to include wetland-waterfowl conservation in this ecologically and spatially linked biome.
The PPR plays host to 314 different bird species, many of which rely on wetland habitats for breeding or for important rest stops during migration. The PHJV has identified species that rely on these habitats for breeding, including lesser scaup, piping plover, yellow rail and horned grebe – all of which are listed as Species at Risk in Canada. The PHJV also has identified 12 waterbird and shorebird priority species that breed in the Boreal or Arctic regions but rely on wetlands in the Prairie/Parkland region as important places to rest and replenish reserves during migration. Many of the priority species in the PHJV align with priorities in several partner states. For example, the Kansas State Wildlife Action Plan identifies 85 bird species of greatest conservation need. Of these, 43 are also listed as priority species in Bird Conservation Region 11, which is the Prairie and Northern Region of the Prairie Potholes of Canada.