The issue of wetland conservation and policy has long been an issue of controversy among interest groups and industry. When observing the number of endangered or threatened species that inhabit wetlands it is apparent that there is a pressing need to conserve them, especially when the leading cause of species loss is habitat destruction (Nowlan and Jeffries, 1996). There is currently in place a system of policies and laws which culminate to create a relatively effective means of enforcement, however, through the lack of a single Act which pertains to wetlands there continues to be inadequacies within the system. Though the federal government has released the Federal Policy on Wetland Conservation it is not admissible in court and therefore only stands as recommendations by which the government would like the public to abide.
The vastly different types of wetlands located through out B.C. create many difficulties in the creation of a single policy, however, if there was a broad based Act which was committed to the current federal policy of "no net loss of wetlands" it would eliminate the need for overlapping laws at the three levels of government.
What Designates an Area as a Wetland
A wetland can be described in many ways, most of which provide a great deal of vagueness in the distinction between the different classifications as these areas frequently fit into more than one grouping within a very small space. There are basic traits which all wetlands share, in that they are any land which is covered in less than six meters of water at low tide (if tidal) for all or part of the year (Zoltai, 1988), this description includes freshwater wetlands such as shallow ponds, marshes, peat bogs, swamps and fens, as well as saltwater wetlands such as tidal flats, saltwater marshes, eelgrass beds, estuaries and deltas (Nowlan and Jeffries, 1996). With such a broad range of fertile lands included in this descripti... Continues...