Wetlands Status and Trends – for Coastal Wetlands

Chow-Fraser, P.


An estimate of current coastal wetlands along the shores of the southern Great Lakes (Ontario and Erie) and their connecting channels (St. Clair, Niagara, Detroit, St. Lawrence) is over 70,000 ha (Ingram et al. 2005). However, coastal wetland losses have been severe since European settlement. About 35% of the wetlands along the Canadian shorelines of Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario have been lost (McCullough, 1985). Between 1789 and 1979, 43% (1,920 ha) of the original coastal marsh along the Canadian shore west of the Bay of Quinte has been lost – with the greatest loss being in the area from Toronto to the Niagara River where 73% to 100% of original coastal marshes were lost (Whillans 1982). Recent publications have discovered a significant link between anthropogenic stressors (i.e. urbanization and agricultural development) and degradation of coastal wetlands on a lake-basin scale (Chow-Fraser 2006; Danz et al. 2007; Morrice et al. 2007; Trebitz et al. 2007). Georgian Bay is one of the world’s largest freshwater archipelagos, and wetland habitat is prevalent along the highly complex shoreline, especially throughout the eastern coast. Georgian Bay is prone to the same anthropogenic stressors as the lower lakes, which have been affected by human growth for a much longer time and to a greater degree.

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